Lonely of Heart
"The lonely of heart is withered away." W. B. Yeats
Lonely of heart,Unhappy in body and mind,Restless and weary;Saying the bitter word,Sneering at gentlenessAnd the sweet looks of others;Doing the cheerless task,Driving one's spirit;Lone in a barren landFighting the drought and the dearthAthirst and unfed--Such was I, many years.
Then came a friend to me.Nearer than othersSlowly he grew to be:How I was gladdened!Soft curved the line of my lips,Brighter my eyes shone;Never the bitter word nowBut the gay and the heartening;And a spirit that danced like a flameClear, clear in my heart.
Sudden and unawaresThe friend grew a lover.So hard, so hard I triedTo hide the dancing flame in my heart,But I could not wholly;Nor the gifts of peace and of joyThat God gives us with love,Nor the powers we add to ourselvesOf happy achievement--So changed was I.
Free and un-free were we--And though the instincts of ten thousand yearsFolded us close together,The man-wrought customs of the centuriesAs walls divided us.Out from the walled grey streets--Narrow, but safe, safe--Into the sunlit fields and waving woods--We could not feel that it was wronging God,Though it was wronging man's strait, careful lawsThat, while they guard some treasure,Waste others cruelly.What does God think of man,I wonder then,And of his judgment?
My love is dead, and I who had his heart,I had no right to vigil by his side.His wife and nurses tended him at need,Giving him empty comfort as he died.
Here were the hands to minister to him--Here was the breast for him to lay his head--Here was a love ready to wrest with death--And hope, whereby his spirit might be fed.
I could not come. He knew I could not come.Secret our love. Secret with him it goes.Only the high stars and benignant night,And one small, love-warm room our secret knows.
My love is dead, and I who had his heartI have no right to mourn, while she goes past--She who was cold of eye and cruel of tongue--Walking in woeful black, with eyes downcast.
So let her go. She has to make repliesWhen consolation meet to her is spoken:No emptiness of phrase profanes my love--None speaks to me, nor knows my heart is broken.
And when the days have passed to months and years,I'll find that I have wrought from love and griefA shining cup wherefrom my spirit drinks,Bringing my life some solace and relief.