If only I might grieve my whole life long,1
And lull myself with weeping till I die,2
Making a dimness of the clear, glad sky,3
Until I had atoned for all the wrong,4
Until I had forgotten all the woe ;5
It would be almost sweet to sorrow so,6
And clothe myself with stainless love, and sit7
Bound in a prison-house of memories,8
And hang the walls with tenderest tapestries,9
Woven of fair, unfruitful pieties,10
Where weeping washes blood to broidered snow.11
There I would watch my close-caged fancies flit12
About the dusky softness of my room,13
And soothe my eyes with unreproachful gloom,14
And hear no curses upon any name,15
And bow myself but not in any shame,16
And wash both him and me from any blame17
In tears that heal us as they overflow.18
Ah !  why must we grow weary of our rest,19
And cast away the burden of our peace ;20
And tire of gentle tears, and tire of prayers,21
And wander after any change of cares,22
And any new desire’s untried behest23
That breaks the yoke of peaceable despair,24
Driving us forth to undesired release ?25
Even if we cling to the soft skirts of woe,26
The world sweeps by ; we have to let them go.27
All things go from us ; all but love and hate,28
And they abide to make us desolate ;29
And love is false, or else he makes us so.30
Too soon I understand the end of all :31
For I remember while the false tears fall,32
Cooling the heartless fever of my cheek,33
The pleasant words of love he used to speak34
While I sat listening, happy, hushed, and meek :35
And these I know I never shall forget ;36
I know my eyes will not be always wet ;37
I do not blush ; they have been dried before.38
Oh, why will not my father’s kisses stay,39
And why will not Rodrigo’s go away ?40
And yet my father gave me many more ;41
I thought I loved him, too, until to-day.42
Yes, I am fain to lead the other yet43
Up the steep pathway, when the evening gloom44
Refreshes with soft dews the ransomed land,45
Till we should kneel together, hand in hand,46
Beside the chilly marble of the tomb47
Where all the banners of my fathers wave ;48
But most are his I did not die to save ;49
You know them in the day-time by the gold,50
But evening makes all mellow and all old.51
Rodrigo, too, would weep upon the grave52
At evening, though he called his father slave53
I, should I dare to kiss away the tears ?—54
Till we could boast together of his name55
And bind our houses in one knot of fame ;56
Till we forgot the sorrow through the years,57
Whose distance lengthens out his high renown——58
If any other hand had struck him down.59
If I had known, if I had known before,60
And never asked for any blood to shed,61
But sat in peace beside the peaceful dead,62
And let the cry go storming overhead !63
Was vengeance mine ?  do women go to war ?64
If I had known and never seen him more,65
Seen him no more, and prayed for him in peace,66
And worn myself away, and won release67
Under the kind, unbroken yoke of pain,68
Till I could dare to meet them both again.69
And now, and now I never am alone,70
His presence is upon me like a chain :71
I tremble now, lest he should hear me moan,72
And offer up his life to me again,73
And stab me with the pity of his eye.74
His life, he offers it as if in play75
He thinks it such a little thing to die :76
No wonder : he is not afraid to slay :77
He loves his father first, why cannot I ?78
If we had known and loved each other long,79
If I had had more space, by day and night,80
To feel my soul upon his steadfast might,81
And treasured up his loyalty at heart,82
And grown to him till I could stand apart,83
And changed myself in him to true and strong.84
Now I am weak, so weak, and none at hand85
To stay me up a little with their scorn,86
To shut me up from sinning with their hate,87
And scourge me back, and make me desolate,88
And teach me how I ought to be forlorn ;89
If they would teach me, I should understand.90
Now all the voices cheer me on one way,91
And all the faces smile away my shame :92
A little while, no doubt, hell lies in wait,93
And I shall be an everlasting name,94
And fathers curse the day when I was born.95
Would any help me if I overcame,96
If I could stand alone against the blame ?97
Even Rodrigo says the same as they ;98
He bids me love him, if I will not slay ;99
And who am I ? how should I disobey ?100
I dare not ask my heart, I know what it would say101
God’s will be done, for love has swallowed mine,102
He orders it, not I, not even love ;103
If He will bless me, why should I repine ?104
Who told me what is counted shame above ?105
If shame it is, I can but kiss the rod ;106
For who shall strengthen me to strive with God ?107
And who will harm me if I do His will,108
Let my beloved take me, and be still,109
When my beloved’s hand is over me110
All my life long ?  and need I ever fear111
Scorn from the voices I shall never hear,112
Frowns on the faces I shall never see,113
And trouble far away, and shame to be114
When grass grows over what was Ximene,115
Who had no heart to take what she thought best ?116
How cold it grows, the stars are in the west :117
Father, good-night; good-night, fair memories118
Of all I was not worthy to hold dear.119
Father, good-night, and leave me to my rest ;120
I have wept long, the morning must be near :121
I wrong my eyes with weeping : they are his.122
These are the words that pale Ximene said :123
And in the dewy morning she was wed124
To him, who wrought her father’s overthrow,125
Since people, priests, and king would have it so.126