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    ELIZA IN UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.   Table of Contents     DESTINY.

Bibb, Eloise
Poems

- IMOGENE.


IMOGENE.

I.


We had been school-mates,--she and I,--
How sad, those years have all rolled by.
I loved her with a school-boy's heart,
A love from which I'll never part.
Though vultures tore my heart in twain,
Still would it beat for her again.

With fancy's eyes I see again,
The old school-house within the glen.
I see the master, bell in hand,
The ranks in single file command.
I feel my heart within me bound,
I welcome so the gladsome sound.

But now I'm tired of ball and bat;
Beneath a large, old oak I sat,
And watched the girls intent at play
With hearts so light and spirits gay.
Oh, that life's morning could return!
For boyhood's days I'll ever yearn.

And as I sat beneath the tree,
I said a maiden watching me,
But when I looked with smile benign,
She quickly turned her eyes from mine,
A maiden blush o'er-spread her face;
She turned from me with natural grace.
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The maid was very fair to see,
And shy and prim as maid could be;
My boyish heart began to beat,
I rose and begged she'd have my seat.
But high she held her shapely head,
"I care not for it, sir," she said.

Advances after that were vain,
She treated me with cold disdain.
And still I tried with strongest will,
But she remained persistent still.
Ah! Imogene, had I but known,
We'd then had little need to mourn.

But Cupid's bow had touched my heart,
I struggled from that love to part.
A boy no more, a man to be
From that bright hour she gazed at me.
The hopes of youth had long been o'er,
I vowed I'd live, and love no more.

And gradually the years passed by:
My life was wrecked, I wished to die.
My Mother, on her dying bed,
Implored an heiress I would wed.
My wife was very fair to see,
But not the one beloved by me.
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II. [ THE BALCONY SCENE. ]


The moon shone bright one cloudless night,
The earth was bathed in silver light.
I strolled along, quite tired of life,
I longed to rid myself of strife.
In vain I struggled to forget,
Oh, how I loathed the day we met.

I came upon a mansion bright,
From every window streamed the light;
Sweet strains of music reached my ear,
And peals of laughter loud and clear.
"Ah! this gay throng, I quickly see,
would be no place for woeful me."

I hurried on. But hark! Just see,
Who is this walks you balcony
All clothed in pure, seraphic white?--
I know that form, e'en though it's night.
I've heard that voice,--can it be true?
My Imogene, say--is it you?

Be still, she speaks; my God! 'Tis she!
Oh, list! My darling speaks of me,--
Of me, whom I believed she loathed:
Oh, can it be her love was clothed
Within a garb of blackest hate?
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But now the knowledge comes too late

"O love, come back!" I hear her cry,
My Waldershaw, for thee I sing!
My heart was thine long years ago
Didst thou not see? Didst thou not know?
Alas! I kept the secret well,--
This love will be my funeral knell.

She wrings her hands in silent woe;
O God! I watch her shadow go
From off the lonely balcony,
And leave me sighing mournfully,
A still, small voice I've learned to hate,
Within me whispered,"Tis--too late.

III.


These prison-walls are bleak and drear;
Who would have thought I'd enter here.
They say four men will die to-day;
My blood, also, will ebb away.
Ah, well! 'tis sweet to die for love,
That sacred essence from above.

That wretch which spoke my darling's name
With free license in homes of shame,
Deserved to die, just as he did.
I killed him,--though the law forbid;
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The slaughter of man's fellow-man.
His blood o'er heath and flower ran.

I hear a step. who may it be!
Some friend who comes to pity me.
A comely youth, his face is hid
His eyes are drooped beneath their lid.
The jailer locks and bars the door,
I see the light of day no more.

Who is this form that o'er me bends,
And rapture to my spirit lends?
"What! Imogene, who brings thee here
To this bleak prison, dark and drear?
Why weepest thou? 'Tis for the best,
I'll pass from woe to realms of rest."

Why does she hold her kerchief near
My nostrils? Sure, she is sincere!
A stupor deadens limb and will.
My brain receives impressions still,--
But Oh, a deadness grips my heart;
Can it be true from life I part?

I see her change her garb for mine,--
I watch her scrawl a single line,
I hear her cry, "Yes, love, I sigh
That I but once for thee can die;
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Far better had'st thou never seen
The proud, but faithful Imogene."

I hear her fall upon the ground.
The jailor enters at the sound,
And bears me from the darkened cell.
And Imogene,--how can I tell
The madness of that dreadful hour!
To save my love, I'd not the power.

I knew no more, my senses slept.
Of brain, of mind I was bereft.
When reason cleared the dark away,
I hastened where my darling lay.
With maddened speech I neared the spot,
But there my Imogene was not

Too late! My God! I see my love!
O angels from the choir above,
Oh, stay that hand that deals the blow!
Oh, raise that arm that trembles so!
My God! Too late! The last I've seen
Of her I love, lost Imogene.
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    ELIZA IN UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.   Table of Contents     DESTINY.