Of living nearness, noise, and common speech;
But I am glad for every glimpse of it,—
And there it is—plain as a name that’s left
In letters by warm hands I cannot reach.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
"As if God made him and then wondered why."
Look you, Domine; look you, and listen.
Look in my face, first: search every line there;
Mark every feature,—chin, lip, and forehead.
Look in my eyes, and tell me the lesson
Yon read there;—measure my nose, and tell me
Where I am wanting. A man's nose, Domine,
Is often the cast of his inward spirit;—
So mark mine well. . . . But why do you smile so?—
Pity, or what?—Is it written all over,
This face of mine, with a brute's confession?—
Nothing but sin there? nothing but hell-scars?—
Or is it because there is something better—
A glimmer of good, maybe,—or a shadow
Of something that's followed me down from childhood—
Followed me all these years and kept me,
Spite of my slips and sins and follies—
Spite of my last red sin, my murder,—
Just out of hell?—Yes?—something of that kind?
And you smile for that? . . . You re a good man, Domine!—
The one good man in the world who knows me—
My one good friend in a world that mocks me,
Here in this hard stone cage. . . . But I leave it
To-morrow. . . . To-morrow!—My God! am I crying?—
Are these things tears?—Tears!—What! am I frightened?—
I who swore I should go to the scaffold