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Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922)

At a Funeral


              1I loved her too, this woman who is dead.
              2    Look in my face. I have a right to go
              3And see the place where you have made her bed
              4    Among the snow.

              5I loved her too whom you are burying.
              6    I have a right to stand beside her bier,
              7And to my handful of the dust I fling,
              8    That she may hear.

              9I loved her; and it was not for the eyes
            10    Which you have shut, nor for her yellow hair,
            11Nor for the face which in your bosom lies.
            12    Let it lie there!

            13Nor for the wild-birds' music of her voice,
            14    Which we shall hear in dreams till we too sleep;
            15Nor for the rest, which made the world rejoice,
            16    The angels weep.

            17It was not for the payment of sweet love,
            18    Though love is often straitened for a kiss,
            19Nor for the hope of other joys above,
            20    But only this,

            21That she had laid her hand upon my heart
            22    Once in the summer time when we were young,
            23And that her finger-tips had left a smart,
            24    And that my tongue

            25Had spoken words which might not be unspoken
            26    Lest they should make a by-word of love's truth,
            27And I had sworn that love should be the token
            28    Of my youth.

            29And so I gave her all, and long ago
            30    The treasure of my youth was put in pawn;
            31And she was little richer that I know
            32    When that was gone.

            33But I have lived a beggar since that day
            34    And hide my face it may be from men's eyes;
            35For often I have seen them shrink away,
            36    As in surprise

            37That such a loathsome cripple should be found
            38    To walk abroad in daylight with the rest,
            39And scarce a rag to cover up the wound
            40    Upon his breast.

            41Yet no man stopped to ask how this might be,
            42    Or I had scared them, and let loose my tongue,
            43How I had bought myself this misery
            44    When I was young.

            45Yet I have loved her. This must be my pay,
            46    The pension I have earned me with these tears;
            47The right to kneel beside her grave to-day,
            48    Despite these years,

            49With all her kisses burning on my cheek,
            50    As when I left her and our love was dead,
            51And our lips trembled though they did not speak,
            52    The night I fled;

            53The right to bid you stand aside, nor be
            54    A witness of our meeting. Did you love
            55In joy as I have loved in misery?
            56    You did not prove

            57Your love was stronger than the strength of death,
            58    Or she had never died upon your hand.
            59I would have fed her breathing with my breath;
            60    I would have fanned

            61A living wind of Heaven to her lips;
            62    I would have stolen life from Paradise.
            63And she is dead, and you have seen eclipse
            64    Within those eyes.

            65If I could know that you had loved her well;
            66    If I could hold it for a certainty
            67That you had sold your life as I did sell;
            68    If I could see

            69The blackness of your soul, and with my tongue
            70    Taste the full bitterness of tears unshed;
            71If I should find your very heart was wrung
            72    And maimed and dead;

            73If I should feel your hand's grasp crumble mine,
            74    And hug the pain when I should grasp in turn;
            75If I could dip my fingers in the brine
            76    Of eyes that burn;

            77If I could hear your voice call back the dead
            78    With such a mighty cry of agony
            79That she should turn and listen in the bed
            80    Where she doth lie,

            81And all the heavens should together roll,
            82    Thinking they heard the angel's trumpet tone,
            83I could forget it that you bought a soul
            84    Which was my own;

            85I could forget that she forgot her vows,
            86    That aught was bartered for the wealth of love;
            87I could untell the story of my woes,
            88    Till God above

            89Should hold her guiltless and condone the wrong
            90    Done to His justice; I could take your hand
            91And call you brother, as we went along
            92    To take our stand

            93Before His judgment-seat with her again
            94    Where we are hurrying, -- for we could not keep
            95Our place unchallenged in the ranks of men
            96    Who do not weep.

Notes

6] bier: the platform on which her coffin lies.

18] straitened: be hard put for lack of.

26] by-word: mockery, contemptible commonplace.

82] the angel's trumpet tone: sounding doomsday, the day of judgment.

86] aught: something. bartered: traded, exchanged for.


Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Poetical Works of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt: A Complete Edition (London: Macmillan, 1914): I, 124-27. PR 4149 B8 1914 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1892
Publication date note: The Love Lyrics and Songs of Proteus (Kelmscott Press, 1892).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2005
Recent editing: 1:2005/2/19

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: abab


Other poems by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt