Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

(1840 - 1922 / England)

In The Night - Poem by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Where art thou, thou lost face,
Which, yet a little while, wert making mirth
At these new years which seemed too sad to be?
Where art thou fled which for a minute's space
Shut out the world and wert my world to me?
And now a corner of this idle Earth,
A broken shadow by the day forgot,
Is wide enough to be thy hiding place,
And thou art shrunk away and needest not
The darkness of this night to cover thee.

Where art thou hidden? In the boundless air
My hands go forth to thee, and search and feel
As through the universe. I hold the night
Caught in my arms, and yet thou art not there.
Where art thou? What if I should strike a light
So suddenly that thou couldst never steal
Back to thy shadows? What if I should find
Thee standing close to me with all thy hair
Trailing about me and thine eyes grown blind
With looking at me vainly through the night?

There are three rings upon thy hand to--night,
One with a sapphire stone, and one there is
Coiled like a snake, and one on which my name
Is written in strange gems. By this dim light
I cannot read if it be writ the same.
See, I have worn no other ring but this!
Why dost thou look at it with eyes estranged?
Is it not thine?--Ah, God! Thou readest right!
And it is changed, and thou and I are changed,
And I have written there another name.

Oh happiness, how has it slipped away!
We, who once lived and held it in our hand!
What is the rest that these new years can bring?
Did we not love it in our love's to--day,
And pleasure which was so divine a thing,
The sweetest and most strange to understand?
And that is why it left regret behind,
As though a wild bird suddenly should stay
A moment at our side and we should find
When we looked up that it had taken wing.

And thou, hast thou forgotten how to love?
Hast thou no kissing in thy lips? Thy tongue,
Has it no secret whisper for my ear?
I have been watching thee to see thee move
A little closer to my side in fear
Of the long night. Oh, there is room among
The pillows for thy head if thou wouldst sleep!
And thou art cold, and I would wrap my love
To my warm breast and so my vigil keep
And be alone with darkness and with her.

Thou standest with thy hand upon my heart,
As once thou used to stand, to feel it beat.
Doth it beat calmer now than in those days?
Thy foolish finger--tips will leave a smart,
If they so press upon my side. Thy gaze
Is burning me. Oh speak a word and cheat
This darkness into pain, if pain must be,
And wake me back to sorrow with a start,
For I am weary of the night and thee
And thy strange silence and thy stranger face.

Canst thou not speak? Thy tale was but begun.
How can I answer thee a tale untold?
Whisper it quick before the morning break.
How loud thou weepest! Listen, there is one
Dreaming beside me who must not awake.
Close in my ear !--Ah! child, thy lips are cold,
Because thou art forsaken.--Misery!
Is there not room enough beneath the sun
For her, and thee, and me?

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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