Sydney Thompson Dobell

(1824-1874 / England)

The Captain's Wife - Poem by Sydney Thompson Dobell

I do not say the day is long and weary,
For while thou art content to be away,
Living in thee, oh Love, I live thy day,
And reck not if mine own be sad and dreary.


I do not count its sorrows or its charms:
It lies as cold, as empty, and as dead,
As lay my wedding-dress beside my bed
When I was clothed in thy dear arms.


Yet there is something here within this breast
Which, like a flower that never blossoms, lieth;
And tho' in words and tears my sorrow crieth,
I know that it hath never been exprest.


Something that blindly yearneth to be known,
And doth not burn, nor rage, nor leap, nor dart;
But struggles in the sickness of my heart,
As a root struggles in a vault of stone.


Now, by my wedding-ring,
I charge thee do not move
That heavy stone that on the vault doth lie;
I charge thee be of merry cheer, my love,
Nor ever let me know that thou dost sigh,
For, ah! how light a thing
Would shake me with the sorrow I deny!


I am as one who hid a giant's child
In her deep prison, and, from year to year,
He grew to his own stature, fierce and wild,
And what she took for love she kept for fear.


Oh, thou enchanter, who dost hold the spells
Of all my sealèd cells,
Oh Love, that hast been silent all too long,
A little longer, Love, oh, silent be;
My secret hath waxed strong,
My giant hath grown up to angry age;
Do thou but say the word that sets him free,
And, lo! he tears me in his rage!


I do not say the day is sad and dreary,
For while thou art content to be away,
Living in thee, oh Love, I live thy day,
And reck not if mine own be wan and weary.


I look down on it from my far love-dream,
As some drowned saint may see with musing eyes
Her lifeless body float adown the stream,
While she is smiling in her skies.


But do thou silence keep!
For I am one who walketh on the ledge
Of some great rock's sheer edge:
I walk in beauty and in light,
Self-balanced on the height:
A breath!-and I am breathless in the deep.


Oh, my own Love, I warn
Thy grief to be as still as they who tread
The snow of alpine peak,
And see the pendulous avalanche o'erhead
Hang like a dew-drop on a thorn!


I charge thee silence keep!
My life stands breathless by her agony,
Oh, do not bid her leap!
I am as calm as air
Before a summer storm;
The ocean of my thoughts hath ceased to roll;
This living heart that doth not beat is warm;
I think the stillness of my face is fair;
The cloud that fills my soul
Is not a cloud of pain.
Beware, beware! one rash
Sweet glance may be the flash
That brings it raving down in thunder and in rain!


No, do not speak:
Nor, oh! let any tell of thy pale cheek,
Nor paint the silent sorrow of thine eye,
Nor tell me thou art fond, or gay, or glad;
For, ah! so tuned and lightly strung am I,
That howsoe'er thou stir, I ring thereby.


Thy manly voice is deep,
But if thou touch from sleep
The woman's treble of my shrill reply,
Ah, who shall say thine echoes may not weep?
A jester's ghost is sad,
The shades of merriest flowers do mow and creep,
And oh, the vocal shadows that should fly
About the simplest word that thou canst say,
What after spell shall ever lay?


Hast thou forgot when I sat down to sing
To my forsaken harp, long, long ago,
How thou, for sport, wouldst strike a single string,
And hark the hovering chorus come and go,
Low and high, high and low,
Till round the throbbing wire
Rose such a quivering quire,
As all King David's wives were echoing
The tenor of their king.


Like those dear strings, my silent soul is full
Of cries, as a ripe fruit is full of wine.
The fruit is hanging fair and beautiful,
And dry-eyed as a rose in the sunshine,
But try it with a single touch of thine,
And, lo! the drops that start,
And all the golden vintage of its heart!


So, thinking of thy debt to Love and me,
In some dull hour beyond the sea,
Do thou but only say-
As carelessly as men do pay their debts-
'Oh, weary day!'
And that one sigh o'ersets
The hive of my regrets,
'Ah, weary, weary day,
Oh, weary, weary day,
Oh, day so weary, oh, day so dreary,
Oh, weary, weary, weary, weary, weary,
Oh, weary, weary!'


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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