Page:The torrent and The night before.djvu/49

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To tell him that hell and the world are better
For her than a prophet's heaven?—Believe me,
The love that dies ere its flames are wasted
In search of an alien soul is better,
Better by far than the lonely passion
That burns back into the heart that feeds it.
For I loved her still; and the more she mocked me,—
Fooled with her endless pleading promise
Of future faith, the more I believed her
The penitent thing she seemed; and the stronger
Her choking arms and her small hot kisses
Bound me and burned my brain to pity.
The more she grew to the heavenly creature
That brightened the life I had lost forever.
The truth was gone somehow for the moment;
The curtain fell for a time; and I fancied
We were again like gods together,
Loving again with the old glad rapture.—
But the scenes, like these, too often repeated,
Failed at last and her guile was wasted,
I made an end of her shrewd caresses
And told her a few straight words. She took them
Full at their worth—and the farce was over.

At first my dreams of the past upheld me,
But they were a short support: the present
Pushed them away, and I fell. The mission
Of life (whatever it was) was blasted;
My game was lost. And I met the winner
Of that foul deal as a sick slave gathers
His painful strength at the sight of his master;
And when he was past I cursed him, fearful
Of that strange chance which makes us mighty
Or mean, or both.—I cursed him and hated
The stones he pressed with his heel; I followed
His easy march with a backward envy,
And cursed myself for the beast within me.—
But pride is the master of love; and the vision
Of those old days grew faint and fainter:—