The Woman I Met (I)

A stranger, I threaded sunken-hearted
A lamp-lit crowd;
And anon there passed me a soul departed,
Who mutely bowed.
In my far-off youthful years I had met her,
Full-pulsed; but now, no more life's debtor,
Onward she slid
In a shroud that furs half-hid.

"Why do you trouble me, dead woman,
Trouble me;
You whom I knew when warm and human?
--How it be
That you quitted earth and are yet upon it
Is, to any who ponder on it,
Past being read!"
"Still, it is so," she said.

"These were my haunts in my olden sprightly
Hours of breath;
Here I went tempting frail youth nightly
To their death;
But you deemed me chaste--me, a tinselled sinner!
How thought you one with pureness in her
Could pace this street
Eyeing some man to greet?

"Well; your very simplicity made me love you
Mid such town dross,
Till I set not Heaven itself above you,
Who grew my Cross;
For you'd only nod, despite how I sighed for you;
So you tortured me, who fain would have died for you!
--What I suffered then
Would have paid for the sins of ten!

"Thus went the days. I feared you despised me
To fling me a nod
Each time, no more: till love chastised me
As with a rod
That a fresh bland boy of no assurance
Should fire me with passion beyond endurance,
While others all
I hated, and loathed their call.


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