THE rain is falling on the roof,
And no sound else disturbs the wife,
Except the trees and winds at strife,
Now near at hand and now aloof;
But listening, leaning evermore,
She waits a knock upon the door.
Her hair is braided round her head;
Her eyes are large and fierce and bright;
Her shapely throat is soft and white;
And on her mouth there burns the red
Of that rich, storied gem that shone
Upon the breast of Prester John.
Upon the couch her husband lies.
How is it that he lies so still?
Why sleeps he there so pale and chill,
The lamplight on his lidded eyes?
Has she not fire, and more than fire
To thrill his flesh with hot desire?
Anon she lifts her rounded arms
As though to feel that she is free;
And her large eyes exultantly
Light up, as when the dawn-glow charms
With roseate lights that gleam and glance
Twin pools to sudden radiance.
The rain is falling on the roof;
Yet, though her ears are open wide,
There is no other sound outside —
No fall of foot, nor tramp of hoof.
And on his couch with lidded eyes
The husband, cold and pallid, lies.
The midnight sky is wild and black
And drenches earth with ceaseless tears;
And now it seems to her she hears
Hoof-strokes upon the sodden track;
And now she rises, sweet as sin,
To let the late night-strayer in.
The lamplight gleams upon his face,
And glistens on his reddened spur;
He stretches out his arms to her
And folds her in a rude embrace. . . .
How can it be the husband lies
So still, with heavy-lidded eyes?
Perchance he neither sees nor hears,
And sleeps unmoved by chance or change.
And yet. . . .and yet, it seems so strange —
If he be dead there should be tears.
Not love nor smiles, nor midnight bliss,
Nor mouths that marry in a kiss.
The loud winds thrust upon the door,
The raindrops plash against the roof,
The trickles from a waterproof
Make little pools upon the floor;
No foe between, no more apart,
They stand, heart throbbing back to heart.
Anon she says: 'He died this morn.
He did not die a whit too soon;
Life's day, alas, makes towards its noon.
He should have died when love was born.
He should have died long since. And now
Kiss me again — my mouth, my brow!'
Roderic Quinn's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Vigil by Roderic Quinn )
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
Poem of the Day
- Controlling The Narrative, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- Hallucinated, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- Livng In Fear To Live Life, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- Dil Jeetney Ki Khatir (Being Inspired By.., Akhtar Jawad
- Hershey, Nero CaroZiv
- Tired 2, Michael P. McParland
- Happiness Returns, Tirupathi Chandrupatla
- Poetry I Adore, Tirupathi Chandrupatla
- Monkeys in City, Tirupathi Chandrupatla
- Emptiness, Marilyn Jean