Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878


Fate Defied

by Bayard Taylor

If seed was meant to grow, or buds to swell
In vernal airs, or birds to mate and build,
Then this quick love, wherewith my heart is filled,
Was meant to bourgeon and to bloom, as well.

If sap was made, to mount in every tree,
And blood, to fill the million veins of man,
Then I was made, the hour my life began,
To share the universal destiny.

If, as ordained, each creature finds his mate
And gives to younger lamps his fading flame
Of life, then I a like fulfilment claim,
Nor ask release from my appointed fate.

This heart is flesh, I cannot make it stone:
This blood is hot, I cannot stop its flow:
These arms are vacant -- wheresoe'er I go,
Love lies in others' arms, and shuns my own.

I who have waited, served, performed my task
For seven long years, and find my Rachel fled,
What recompense shall now be mine instead?
Fate turns away, nor grants the least I ask!

Come,'t is enough! -- Fate, Law, whatever rules
This wretched Earth, my hand is on thy throat:
Pour on these wounds the sole sweet antidote,
And keep thy tricks for cowards and for fools!

Too long I've lain, and with submissive will
Suffered: my rights I now demand of thee:
Give me the wife, the home, thou stol'st from me,
The children of the Future thou didst kill!

Mine thou hast chosen from a thousand lives
To bear thy malice: cruel Power, take heed!
Pierced unto death, the conquered heart may bleed, --
The vengeance of an injured man survives.

Give back, thou thief, thy plunder! Let me lie
In some low nook of earth, obscure, forgot,
But sharing still my brethren's blessed lot,
Or I will wrestle with thee till I die!


The Poet's Journal
Copyright 1863
Ticknor and Fields, Boston