A Woman's Message

This song of journeys into sorrow
Is mine. I sing it. I alone
Can ravel out its misery, full-grown
When I was, and never worse than now.
The darkness of exile droops on my life.
His going began it, the tossing waves
Taking my lord. I was left in the dawn
Friendless where affection had been. I travelled
Seeking the sun of protection and safety,
Accepting the exile as payment for hope.
But the man's family was weaving plans
In the dark, intending to drive us apart
With a wedge the width of the world, condemning
Our love to a living death. I wept.
My new lord commanded me into a convent
Of wooden nuns, in a land where I knew
No lovers, no friends. So sadness was framed,
For I'd matched myself with a fitting man,
Born to misfortune, blessed with sorrow,
His mind close to me, mulling on murder.
How gaily, how often, we'd fashioned oaths
Defying everything but death to endanger
Our love; now only the words are left
And our friendship's a fable that time has forgotten
And never tells. For my well-beloved
I've been forced to suffer, far and near.
I was ordered to live in a nun's-nest of leaves
In an earthen cavern under an oak.
I writhe with longing in this ancient hole;
The valleys seem leaden, the hills reared aloft,
And the bitter towns all bramble patches
Of empty pleasure. The memory of parting
Rips at my heart. My friends are out there,
Savouring their lives, secure in their beds,
While at dawn alone, I crawl miserably down
Under the oak growing out of my cave.
There I must squat the summer-long day,
There I can water the earth with weeping
For exile and sorrow, for sadness that can never
Find rest from grief nor from the famished
Desires that leap at unquenchable life.
May that man be always bent with misery,
With calloused thoughts; may he have to cling
To laughter and smiles when sorrow is clamouring
Wild for his blood; let him win his pleasures
Unfriended, alone; force him out
Into distant lands — as my lover dwells
In the shade of rocks the storm has frosted,
My downhearted lover in desolate hall
Lapped by floods. Christ, how he suffers,
Unable to smother swelling memories
Of a better place. There are few things more bitter
Than awaiting a love who is lost to hope.
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