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I was a human creature too,

With flesh and blood like one of you,
A girl that laughed in beauty's pride
Like lilies in your world outside.


I had a lover-shame avaunt!

This poor wrenched body, grim and gaunt, Was kissed all over till it burned,

By lips the truest, love e'er turned

His heart's own tint: one night they kissed My soul out in a burning mist.


So, next day when the accustomed train
Of things grew round my sense again,
"That is a sin," I said: and slow
With downcast eyes to church I go,
And pass to the confession-chair,
And tell the old mild father there.


But when I falter Beltran's name, "Ha?” quoth the father; "much I blame "The sin; yet wherefore idly grieve? "Despair not-strenuously retrieve! "Nay, I will turn this love of thine "To lawful love, almost divine,


"For he is young, and led astray,

"This Beltran, and he schemes, men say, "To change the laws of church and state; "So, thine shall be an angel's fate,

"Who, ere the thunder breaks, should roll
"Its cloud away and save his soul.


"For, when he lies upon thy breast,
"Thou mayst demand and be possessed
"Of all his plans, and next day steal
"To me, and all those plans reveal,
"That I and every priest, to purge
"His soul, may fast and use the scourge."


That father's beard was long and white,
With love and truth his brow seemed bright;
I went back, all on fire with joy,

And, that same evening, bade the boy,
Tell me, as lovers should, heart-free,
Something to prove his love of me.


He told me what he would not tell
For hope of heaven or fear of hell;
And I lay listening in such pride!
And, soon as he had left my side,
Tripped to the church by morning-light
To save his soul in his despite.


I told the father all his schemes,

Who were his comrades, what their dreams;
"And now make haste," I said, "to pray
"The one spot from his soul away;

"To-night he comes, but not the same
"Will look!"

Robert Browning. III.

At night he never came.



Nor next night: on the after-morn,
I went forth with a strength new-born.
The church was empty; something drew
My steps into the street; I knew
It led me to the market-place:
Where, lo, on high, the father's face!


That horrible black scaffold dressed,
That stapled block . . God sink the rest!
That head strapped back, that blinding vest,
Those knotted hands and naked breast,
Till near one busy hangman pressed,
And, on the neck these arms caressed...


No part in aught they hope or fear!
No heaven with them, no hell!—and here,
No earth, not so much space as pens
My body in their worst of dens

But shall bear God and man my cry,
Lies-lies, again—and still, they lie!



SHE should never have looked at me
If she meant I should not love her!
There are plenty. . men, you call such,
I suppose. . she may discover

All her soul to, if she pleases,

And yet leave much as she found them: But I'm not so, and she knew it

When she fixed me, glancing round them.


What? To fix me thus meant nothing? But I can't tell (there's my weakness) What her look said!-no vile cant, sure, About "need to strew the bleakness "Of some lone shore with its pearl-seed, "That the sea feels"-no "strange yearning "That such souls have, most to lavish

"Where there's chance of least returning."


Oh we're sunk enough here, God knows!
But not quite so sunk that moments,
Sure tho' seldom, are denied us,

When the spirit's true endowments
Stand out plainly from its false ones,
And apprise it if pursuing

Or the right way or the wrong way,
To its triumph or undoing.


There are flashes struck from midnights,
There are fire-flames noondays kindle,
Whereby piled-up honours perish,

Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle,
While just this or that poor impulse
Which for once had play unstifled
Seems the sole work of a life-time

That away the rest have trifled.


Doubt you if, in some such moment,
As she fixed me, she felt clearly,
Ages past the soul existed,

Here an age 't is resting merely,
And hence fleets again for ages,
While the true end, sole and single,
It stops here for is, this love-way,
With some other soul to mingle?


Else it loses what it lived for,
And eternally must lose it;
Better ends may be in prospect,

Deeper blisses (if you choose it),
But this life's end and this love-bliss

Have been lost here. Doubt you whether

This she felt as, looking at me,

Mine and her souls rushed together?


Oh, observe! Of course, next moment,
The world's honours, in derision,
Trampled out the light for ever:

Never fear but there's provision
Of the devil's to quench knowledge
Lest we walk the earth in rapture!
-Making those who catch God's secret
Just so much more prize their capture!


Such am I: the secret's mine now!

She has lost me, I have gained her;

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