David Lewis Paget
The Rival - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The hills were awash with winter rain
As I walked on down to the cross,
My coat was drenched and my feet were wet
As I thought of my recent loss.
The sun was hidden behind the clouds
When I got to the crossroads there,
And a single sliver of lightning flashed,
Shed light on my own despair.
I knew that I’d get there early, so
I sheltered under a tree,
They’d not set off from the market place
At least, ‘til after three.
I should have come down in a coach and four
And kept right out of the rain,
But to freeze on the muddied bridle-path
Seemed to cauterize my pain.
It gave me time to adjust my mind
For the deed that had to be done,
Walk down the Hall of Remembrance for
A love that had been hard won,
The eyes that sparkled and smiled for me
Each time that I came in view,
Oh Caroline, sweet Caroline,
I’d have given the world for you!
That terrible night on the balcony
When you fought with Emily Krause,
You said she’d uttered some infamy
I should throw her out of the house.
I’d only left for an instant then
To recruit some help downstairs,
But when I returned to the balcony
She welcomed me back with a curse.
She said that you’d jumped, were in a rage,
She said that you’d had a fall,
She said that you’d gone, and I could gauge
That she was the best of all.
She backed away, and fell to her knees
While I stared down at the Mall,
She begged and sobbed, and she whispered ‘Please! ’
But you lay there in a sprawl.
The cart is pulled by a single horse
As it ambles down from the town,
She’s dressed herself in a bonnet of blue
And worn her second-best gown.
A line of townsfolk follow it down
And they pelt her with refuse,
She screams with fear and I can but hear
Her say, ‘Please cut me loose.’
The crossroads are a terrible place
With a sign that points to town,
The single arm that is braced in place
Has a rope burn, up and down,
I clamber up on the ancient cart
And I check that her hands aren’t loose,
‘Not you, my love, not you, by God! ’
As I place her neck in the noose.
1 May 2014
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