We stood among the boats and nets . . .
We marked the risen moon
Walk swaying o’er the trembling seas
As one sways in a swoon;
The little stars, the lonely stars,
Stole through the hollow sky,
And every sucking eddy where
The waves lapped wharf or rotten stair
Moaned like some stricken thing hid there
And strangled with its own despair
As the shuddering tide crept by.
I loved her, and I hated her—
Or did I hate myself because,
Bound by obscure, strong, silken laws,
I felt myself the worshiper
Of beauty never wholly mine?
With lures most apt to snare, entwine,
With bonds too subtle to define,
Her lighter nature mastered mine;
Herself half given, half withheld,
Her lesser spirit still compelled
Its tribute from my franker soul:
So—rebel, slave, and worshiper!—
I loved her and I hated her.
I gazed upon her, I, her thrall,
And musing, murmured, What if death
Were just the answer to it all?—
Suppose some dainty dagger quaffed
Her life in one deep eager draught?—
Suppose some amorous knife caressed
The lovely hollow of her breast?”—
She turned a mocking look to mine:
She read the thought within my eyne,
She held me with her look—and laughed!
Now who may tell what stirs, controls,
And shapes mad fancies into facts?
What trivial things may quicken souls
To irrevocable, swift acts?
Now who has known, who understood,
Wherefore some idle thing
May stab with deadlier sting
Than well-considered insult could?—
May spur the languor of a mood
And rouse a tiger in the blood?—
Ah, Christ!—had she not laughed just when
That fancy came! . . . for then . . . and then . . .
A sudden mist dropped from the sky,
A mist swept in across the sea . . .
A mist that hid her face from me . . .
A weeping mist all tinged with red,
A dripping mist that smelt like blood . . .
It choked my throat, it burnt my brain . . .
And through it peered one sallow star,
And through it rang one shriek of pain . . .
And when it passed my hands were red,
My soul was dabbled with her blood;
And when it passed my love was dead
And tossed upon the troubled flood.