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Victoria Sackville-West

(1892 - 1962 / England)

Bitterness


Yes, they were kind exceedingly; most mild
Even in indignation, taking by the hand
One that obeyed them mutely, as a child
Submissive to a law he does not understand.

They would not blame the sins his passion wrought.
No, they were tolerant and Christian, saying, 'We
Only deplore ...' saying they only sought
To help him, strengthen him, to show him love; but he

Following them with unrecalcitrant tread,
Quiet, towards their town of kind captivities,
Having slain rebellion, ever turned his head
Over his shoulder, seeking still with his poor eyes

Her motionless figure on the road. The song
Rang still between them, vibrant bell to answering bell,
Full of young glory as a bugle; strong;
Still brave; now breaking like a sea-bird's cry 'Farewell!'

And they, they whispered kindly to him 'Come!
Now we have rescued you. Let your heart heal. Forget!
She was your lawless dark familiar.' Dumb,
He listened, and they thought him acquiescent. Yet,

(Knowing the while that they were very kind)
Remembrance clamoured in him: 'She was wild and free,
Magnificent in giving; she was blind
To gain or loss, and, loving, loved but me,--but me!

'Valiant she was, and comradely, and bold;
High-mettled; all her thoughts a challenge, like gay ships
Adventurous, with treasure in the hold.
I met her with the lesson put into my lips,

'Spoke reason to her, and she bowed her head,
Having no argument, and giving up the strife.
She said I should be free. I think she said
That, for the asking, she would give me all her life.'

And still they led him onwards, and he still
Looked back towards her standing there; and they, content,
Cheered him and praised him that he did their will.
The gradual distance hid them, and she turned, and went.

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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