The Monologue

Alas, O Lovely One,
Imprisoned here,
I tap; thou answerest not,
I doubt, and fear.
Yet transparent as glass these walls,
If thou lean near.

Last dusk, at those high bars
There came, scarce-heard,
Claws, fluttering feathers,
Of deluded bird—
With one shrill, scared, faint note
The silence stirred.

Rests in that corner,
In puff of dust, a straw—
Vision of harvest-fields
I never saw,
Of strange green streams and hills,
Forbidden by law.

These things I whisper,
For I see—in mind—
Thy caged cheek whiten
At the wail of wind,
That thin breast wasting; unto
Woe resigned.

Take comfort, listen!
Once we twain were free;
There was a Country—
Lost the memory …
Lay thy cold brow on hand,
And dream with me.

Awaits me torture;
I have smelt their rack;
From spectral groaning wheel
Have turned me back;
Thumbscrew and boot, and then—
The yawning sack.

Lean closer, then!
Lay palm on stony wall.
Let but thy ghost beneath
Thine eyelids call:
“Courage, my brother!” Nought
Can then appal.

Yet coward, coward am I,
And drink I must
When clanks the pannikin
With the longed-for crust;
Though heart within is sour
With disgust.

Long hours there are,
When mutely tapping—well,
Is it to Vacancy
I these tidings tell?
Knock these numb fingers against
An empty cell?

Nay, answer not.
Let still mere longing make
Thy presence sure to me,
While in doubt I shake:
Be but my Faith in thee,
For sanity's sake.
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