Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SOUL'S LOSS, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON



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A SOUL'S LOSS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Twixt the future and the past
Last Line: Dare not question what thou art.
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Soul


TWIXT the Future and the Past
There 's a moment. It is o'er.
Kiss sad hands! we part at last.
I am on the other shore.
Fly, stern Hour! and hasten fast.
Nobler things are gone before.

From the dark of dying years
Grows a face with violet eyes,
Tremulous through tender tears, --
Warm lips heavy with rich sighs, --
Ah, they fade! it disappears,
And with it my whole heart dies!

Dies...and this choked world is sickening;
Truth has nowhere room for breath.
Crusts of falsehood, slowly thickening
From the rottenness beneath
These rank social forms, are quickening
To a loathsome life-in-death.

O those devil's market-places!
Knowing, nightly, she was there,
Can I marvel that the traces
On her spirit are not fair?
I forgot that air debases
When I knew she breathed such air.

This a fair immortal spirit
For which God prepared his spheres?
What! shall this the stars inherit?
And the worth of honest tears?
A fool's fancy all its merit!
A fool's judgment all its fears!

No, she loves no other! No,
That is lost which she gave me.
Is this comfort, -- that I know
All her spirit's poverty?
When that dry soul is drained low,
His who wills the dregs may be!

Peace! I trust a heart forlorn
Weakly upon boisterous speech.
Pity were more fit than scorn.
Fingered moth, and bloomless peach!
Gathered rose without a thorn,
Set to fleer in all men's reach!

I am clothed with her disgrace.
O her shame is made my own!
O I reel from my high place!
All belief is overthrown.
What! This whirligig of lace,
This the Queen that I have known?

Starry Queen that did confer
Beauty on the barren earth!
Woodlands, wandered oft with her
In her sadness and her mirth,
Feeling her ripe influence stir
Brought the violets to birth.

The great golden clouds of even,
They, too, knew her, and the host
Of the eternal stars in heaven;
And I deemed I knew her most.
I, to whom the Word was given
How archangels have been lost!

Given in vain! ... But all is over!
Every spell that bound me broken!
In her eyes I can discover
Of that perisht soul no token.
I can neither hate nor love her.
All my loss must be unspoken.

Mourn I may, that from her features
All the angel light is gone.
But I chide not. Human creatures
Are not angels. She was none.
Women have so many natures!
I think she loved me well with one.

All is not with love departed.
Life remains, though toucht with scorn.
Lonely, but not broken-hearted.
Nature changes not. The morn
Breathes not sadder. Buds have started
To white clusters on the thorn.

And to-morrow I shall see
How the leaves their green silk sheath
Have burst upon the chestnut-tree.
And the white rose-bush beneath
My lattice which, once tending, she
Made thrice sweeter with her breath,

Its black buds through moss and glue
Will swell greener. And at eve
Winking bats will waver through
The gray warmth from eave to eave,
While the daisy gathers dew.
These things grieve not, though I grieve.

What of that? Deep Nature's gladness
Does not help this grief to less.
And the stars will show no sadness,
And the flowers no heaviness,
Though each thought should turn to madness
'Neath the strain of its distress!

No, if life seem lone to me,
'T is scarce lonelier than at first.
Lonely natures there must be.
Eagles are so. I was nurst
Far from love in infancy:
I have sought to slake my thirst

At high founts; to fly alone,
Haunt the heaven, and soar, and sing.
Earth's warm joys I have not known.
This one heart held everything.
Now my eyrie is o'erthrown!
As of old, I spread the wing,

And rise up to meet my fate
With a yet unbroken will.
When Heaven shut up Eden-gate,
Man was given the earth to till.
There's a world to cultivate,
And a solitude to fill.

Welcome man's old helpmate, Toil!
How may this heart's hurt be healed?
Crush the olive into oil;
Turn the ploughshare; sow the field.
All are tillers of the soil.
Each some harvest hopes to yield.

Shall I perish with the whole
Of the coming years in view
Unattempted? To the soul
Every hour brings something new.
Still suns rise: still ages roll.
Still some deed is left to do.

Some...but what? Small matter now!
For one lily for her hair,
For one rose to wreathe her brow,
For one gem to sparkle there,
I had...words, old words, I know!
What was I, that she should care

How I differed from the common
Crowd that thrills not to her touch?
How I deemed her more than human,
And had died to crown her such?
They? To them she is mere woman.
O, her loss and mine is much!

Fool, she haunts me still! No wonder!
Not a bud on yon black bed,
Not a swated lily yonder,
But recalls some fragrance fled!
Here, what marvel I should ponder
On the last word which she said?

I must seek some other place
Where free Nature knows her not:
Where I shall not meet her face
In each old familiar spot.
There is comfort left in space.
Even this grief may be forgot.

Great men reach dead hands unto me
From the graves to comfort me.
Shakspeare's heart is throbbing through me.
All man has been man may be.
Plato speaks like one that knew me.
Life is made Philosophy.

Ah, no, no! while yet the leaf
Turns, the truth upon its pall.
By the stature of this grief,
Even Shakespeare shows so small!
Plato palters with relief.
Grief is greater than them all!

They were pedants who could speak.
Grander souls have past unheard:
Such as found all language weak;
Choosing rather to record
Secrets before Heaven: nor break
Faith with angels by a word.

And Heaven heeds this wretchedness
Which I suffer. Let it be.
Would that I could love thee less!
I, too, am dragged down by thee.
Thine -- in weakness -- thine -- ah yes
Yet farewell eternally.

Child, I have no lips to chide thee.
Take the blessing of a heart
(Never more to beat beside thee!)
Which in blessing breaks. Depart.
Farewell. I that deified thee
Dare not question what thou art.





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