Elizabeth Stoddard

1823-1902

 

I Live Within The Stranger's Gate

by Elizabeth Stoddard

I.

I live within the stranger's gate,
And count the hours
Since God let fall the bolt of fate!
Where the waves fall on yonder shore
In cloudy spray,
And where the winds forever roar,
The pillars of a mansion stand,
Without a roof;
The saddest ruin in the land!

II.

When sunset strikes across the sea
The wreck looms up;
Then Memory comes, and touches me.
I see a pitiful white face
Break through the mould
Decaying at the pillar's base,
And hands that beckon me to prayer.
But I still curse,
And wake the Furies slumbering there!

III.

In the strange drama of the Past
It was my part
To hold carousal to the last;
It was for me to hide the shame,
And brave the world
With lies about our ancient name!
I played it well, and played it long:
But let it pass,
The world has never known the wrong.

IV.

Up heave, black mould, and totter all
The ruin down!
Fall, monumental pillars, fall,
Upon her grave! Above her breast
May ivy creep,
And roses blow! I choose to rest.

Source:

Poems
Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company, Boston And New York
 
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