The Poet's Vow. Part The Fifth

Part 5: Showing How The Vow Was Broken

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


The poet oped his bolted door,
The midnight sky to view.
A spirit-feel was in the air
Which seemed to touch his spirit bare
Whenever his breath he drew;
And the stars a liquid softness had,
As alone their holiness forbade
Their falling with the dew.


They shine upon the steadfast hills,
Upon the swinging tide;
Upon the narrow track of beach,
And the murmuring pebbles pied;
They shine on every lovely place --
They shine upon the corpse's face,
As it were fair beside.


It lay before him, human like,
Yet so unlike a thing!
More awful in its shrouded pomp
Than any crowned king;
All calm and cold, as it did hold,
Some secret, glorying.


A heavier weight than of its clay
Clung to his heart and knee:
As if those folded palms could strike,
He staggered groaningly,
And then o'er hung, without a groan,
The meek close mouth that smiled alone,
Whose speech the scroll must be.


The Poems Of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume 1
Copyright 1853
C. S. Francis & Co., 262 Broadway, New York
Crosby & Nichols, Boston