Godiva

From the doorway when she crept,
Head abased and hand that kept
The shining shaking cloak around her,
The golden cloak that light enwound her
Neck to knees,

Lone she moved; no other stirred,
No forbidden foot she heard,
No voice whispered as she passed
'Neath the morning shadow, cast
Like a darker cloak.

No eye in a wanton glimpse
Sought the whiteness of her limbs,
No look scorched her with its fire
Covetous with wild desire
As she rode.

All that silence was her praise,
Eyes adored her when their gaze
Sank beneath the throbbing lid.
Glowed her beauty as she hid
Beauty in her hair.

Golden-cloaked she rode, and now
Raised the brightness of her brow,
Drooped no more the tenderest eyes
Ever moist for miseries;
Proud she looked.

Champed her horse the gilded bit,
Tossed his gilded head with wit
Of her gentleness, and paced
Proud with her that now outfaced
The sun's bright stare.

But one moment — one — she faltered,
Fell her look, her face was altered.
Was it the wind in her hair?
What unseen hand made a bare
Roundness of her breast?

Like a tree that hangs so still
When no breath falls from the hill,
So she hung; then moved again,
Along the silent eyeless lane
Riding on

As though the horse moved with her thought,
And paused when some quick wonder caught
At her heart; then, as she sighed,
Breathed anew with nostrils wide
And stepping slow was gone.

Knew she it was I that stirred
The golden cloak, my breath that bared
Half the roundness of her breast?
Mine the unseen lips that pressed
Soft as rain;

My eye that burned with sudden heat
And stung her thought with other sweet?
Not the wind, but love's swift wild
Fire invisible, undefiled,
Pleading in love's tongue?
. . . . .

In the hush a bell clapped loud,
Crawled a wan and anxious crowd
Up and down and wantoning
Again with hope, while children cling
And whimper yet.

But in the Castle's sullen walls
Godiva in a dark dream falls,
Then shady-gowned sits with her Lord,
Sick with thought and newly gored
By his lust abhorred.
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