I INTO the shadow-white chamber silts the white Flux of another dawn. The wind that all night Long has waited restless, suddenly wafts A whirl like snow from the plum-trees and the pear, Till petals heaped between the window-shafts In a drift die there. A nurse in white, at the dawning, flower-foamed pane Draws down the blinds, whose shadows scarcely stain The white rugs on the floor, nor the silent bed That rides the room like a frozen berg, its crest Finally ridged with the austere line of the dead Stretched out at rest. Less than a year the fourfold feet had pressed The peaceful floor, when fell the sword on their rest. Yet soon, too soon, she had him home again With wounds between them, and suffering like a guest That will not go. Now suddenly going, the pain Leaves an empty breast. II A tall woman, with her long white gown aflow As she strode her limbs amongst it, once more She hastened towards the room. Did she know As she listened in silence outside the silent door? Entering, she saw him in outline, raised on a pyre Awaiting the fire. Upraised on the bed, with feet erect as a bow, Like the prow of a boat, his head laid back like the stern Of a ship that stands in a shadowy sea of snow With frozen rigging, she saw him; she drooped like a fern Refolding, she slipped to the floor as a ghost-white peony slips When the thread clips. Soft she lay as a shed flower fallen, nor heard The ominous entry, nor saw the other love, The dark, the grave-eyed mistress who thus dared At such an hour to lay her claim, above A stricken wife, so sunk in oblivion, bowed With misery, no more proud. III The stranger's hair was shorn like a lad's dark poll And pale her ivory face: her eyes would fail In silence when she looked: for all the whole Darkness of failure was in them, without avail. Dark in indomitable failure, she who had lost Now claimed the host, She softly passed the sorrowful flower shed In blonde and white on the floor, nor even turned Her head aside, but straight towards the bed Moved with slow feet, and her eyes' flame steadily burned. She looked at him as he lay with banded cheek, And she started to speak Softly: "I knew it would come to this," she said, "I knew that some day, soon, I should find you thus. So I did not fight you. You went your way instead Of coming mine—and of the two of us I died the first, I, in the after-life Am now your wife." IV "'Twas I whose fingers did draw up the young Plant of your body: to me you looked e'er sprung The secret of the moon within your eyes! My mouth you met before your fine red mouth Was set to song—and never your song denies My love, till you went south." "'Twas I who placed the bloom of manhood on Your youthful smoothness: I fleeced where fleece was none Your fervent limbs with flickers and tendrils of new Knowledge; I set your heart to its stronger beat; I put my strength upon you, and I threw My life at your feet." "But I whom the years had reared to be your bride, Who for years was sun for your shivering, shade for your sweat, Who for one strange year was as a bride to you—you set me aside With all the old, sweet things of our youth;—and never yet Have I ceased to grieve that I was not great enough To defeat your baser stuff." V "But you are given back again to me Who have kept intact for you your virginity. Who for the rest of life walk out of care, Indifferent here of myself, since I am gone Where you are gone, and you and I out there Walk now as one." "Your widow am I, and only I. I dream God bows his head and grants me this supreme Pure look of your last dead face, whence now is gone The mobility, the panther's gambolling, And all your being is given to me, so none Can mock my struggling." "And now at last I kiss your perfect face, Perfecting now our unfinished, first embrace. Your young hushed look that then saw God ablaze In every bush, is given you back, and we Are met at length to finish our rest of days In a unity."
Return to the D. H. Lawrence library , or . . . Read the next poem; Under the oak