Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878



by Bayard Taylor

The waters of my life were sweet,
Before that bolt of sorrow fell;
But now, though fainting with the heat,
I dare not drink the bitter well.

My God! shall Sin across the heart
Sweep like a wind that leaves no trace,
But Grief inflict a rankling smart
No after blessing can efface?

I see the tired mechanic take
His evening rest beside his door,
And gentlier, for their father's sake,
His children tread the happy floor:

The kitchen teems with cheering smells,
With clash of cups and clink of knives,
And all the household picture tells
Of humble yet contented lives.

Then in my heart the serpents hiss:
What right have these, who scarcely know
The perfect sweetness of their bliss,
To flaunt it thus before my woe?

Like bread, Love's portion they divide,
Like water drink his precious wine,
When the least crumb they cast aside
Were manna for these lips of mine.

I see the friend of other days
Lead home his flushed and silent bride:
His eyes are suns of tender praise,
Her eyes are stars of tender pride.

Go, hide your shameless happiness,
The demon cries, within my breast;
Think not that I the bond can bless,
Which seeing, I am twice unblest.

The husband of a year proclaims
His recent honor, shows the boy,
And calls the babe a thousand names,
And dandles it in awkward joy:

And then -- I see the wife's pale cheek,
Her eyes of pure, celestial ray --
The curse is choked: I cannot speak,
But, weeping, turn my head away


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