Alice Duer Miller (28 July 1874 - 22 August 1942 / New York City, New York)
After a Quarrel
WE have quarreled; ugly things have been said,
Bitter things, in a tone controlled, well-bred,
Temperate; we weighed our words, lest the lust
Of cruelty lose the edge of being just.
We have quarreled over a trifle, one of those trifles
That strike their roots to the very heart of each,
To the cold and earthy places where even love stifles,
And kindness and friendly habit cannot reach ;
Those unexplored vaults of the spirit, black, unknown,
Where each is a king, but a king ashamed, alone,
Afraid of the world, afraid of friend and foe.
Oh, human creatures must quarrel, my dear, I know;
But if we must, let's quarrel for something great,
For something final and dangerous - mastery; hate,
Freedom, or jealousy, virtue, death, or life:
For then two loves leap up on the wings of strife
Into the sun and air of their own souls' sight,
Locked together, joined, putting forth all their might
That love may survive or fail, or perish or win,
But perish not for a trifle. That is sin.
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