An Erring Woman's Love - Part II.
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
She woke as one wakes from a deep
And dreamless, yet exhausting, sleep.
A strange confusion filled her mind,
And sorrows vague and undefined,
Like half-remembered faces pressed
To memory's window, in her breast,
Gazed at her with reproachful eyes.
She felt a sudden, dazed surprise,
Commingled with a sense of dread,
I did but sleep -- I am not dead,
The potion and the purpose failed, she wildly wailed.
And I still live,
Nay, thou art dead, rash suicide,
A sad voice spake: and at her side
She saw a weird and shadowy crowd
With anguished lips, and shoulders bowed,
And orbs that seemed the wells of woe.
She shrieked and veiled her eyes.
I am not dead! I ache with life.
An earthly passion's hopeless strife
Still tortures me.
Yet thou art dead,
The voice with sad insistence said.
But love and sorrow and regret
All die with death. I feel them yet.
God bade thee live, and only He
Can say when thou shalt cease to be.
But I was sin-sick, sad, alone --
I thought by death I could atone,
And died that Christ might show me how.
Christ bore His burden, why not thou?
Oh! lead me to His holy feet
And let my penance be complete.
What! thinkest thou to find that path --
Thou who hast tempted Heaven's wrath
By thy rash deed? Nay, nay, not so,
'Tis but perfected spirits go
To that supreme and final goal.
A self-sought death delays the soul.
With yonder shuddering, woeful throng
Of suicides thy ways belong.
Close to the earth a shadowy band,
Unseen, but seeing all, they stand
Until their natural time to die,
As God intended, shall draw nigh.
On earth, repentant, sick of sin,
A ministering angel thou hadst been
Whose patient toil and deeds divine
Had rescued souls as sad as thine,
Each deed a firm ascending stair
To lead beyond thy great despair.
But now it is thy mournful fate
To linger here and meditate
On thy dark past -- to stand so near
The earthly plane that thou canst hear
Thy lover's voice, while old desire
Shall burn within thee like a fire,
And grief shall root thee to the spot
To find how soon thou art forgot.
But since thou hast endured the woes
That only fragile woman knows,
And loved as only woman can,
Thou shalt not suffer all that man
Must suffer when he interferes
With God's great law. In death's dim spheres
That justice waits, which men refuse.
Thy sex shall in some part excuse
Thy desperate deed. When God shall send
A second death to be thy friend,
Thou need'st not fear a darker fate --
Go forth with yonder throng, and wait.
Source:Poems of Sentiment
Gay And Hancock, Ltd., London