A Woman's Question

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Before I trust my fate to thee,  
 Or place my hand in thine,  
Before I let thy future give  
 Color and form to mine,  
Before I peril all for thee, question thy soul to-night for me.

I break all slighter bonds, nor feel  
 A shadow of regret:  
Is there one link within the Past  
 That holds thy spirit yet?  
Or is thy faith as clear and free as that which I can pledge to thee?

Does there within thy dimmest dreams  
 A possible future shine,  
Wherein thy life could henceforth breathe,  
 Untouch'd, unshar'd by mine?  
If so, at any pain or cost, O, tell me before all is lost.

Look deeper still. If thou canst feel,  
 Within thy inmost soul,  
That thou hast kept a portion back,  
 While I have stak'd the whole;  
Let no false pity spare the blow, but in true mercy tell me so.

Is there within thy heart a need  
 That mine cannot fulfil
One chord that any other hand  
 Could better wake or still
Speak now, lest at some future day my whole life wither and decay.

Lives there within thy nature hid  
 The demon-spirit Change,  
Shedding a passing glory still  
 On all things new and strange
It may not be thy fault alone, but shield my heart against thy own.

Couldst thou withdraw thy hand one day  
 And answer to my claim,  
That Fate, and that to-day's mistake
 Not thou had been to blame
Some soothe their conscience thus; but thou wilt surely warn and save me now.

Nay, answer not, I dare not hear,  
 The words would come too late;  
Yet I would spare thee all remorse,  
 So, comfort thee, my fate
Whatever on my heart may fall, remember, I would risk it all!

© Adelaide Anne Procter