Menken, Adah Isaacs
"La patience est amère; mais le fruit en est doux!"
AWAY down into the shadowy depths of the Real I
I thought that to seem was to be.
But the waters of Marah were beautiful, yet they were bitter.
I waited, and hoped, and prayed;
Counting the heart-throbs and the tears that answered them.
Through my earnest pleadings for the True, I learned
that the mildest mercy of life was a smiling sneer;
And that the business of the world was to lash with
vengeance all who dared to be what their God had made
Smother back tears to the red blood of the heart!
Crush out things called souls!
No room for them here!
Now I gloss my pale face with laughter, and sail my.
voice on with the tide.
48Decked in jewels and lace, I laugh beneath the gas
light's glare, and quaff the purple wine.
But the minor-keyed soul is standing naked and hungry
Upon one of Heaven's high hills of light
Standing and waiting for the blood of the feast!
Starving for one poor word!
Waiting for God to launch out some beacon on the
boundless shores of this Night.
Shivering for the uprising of some soft wing under
which it may creep, lizard-like, to warmth and rest.
Waiting! Starving and shivering!
Still I trim my white bosom with crimson roses; for
none shall see the thorns.
I bind my aching brow with a jeweled crown, that none
shall see the iron one beneath
My silver-sandaled feet keep impatient time to the music,
because I cannot be calm.
I laugh at earth's passion-fever of Love; yet I know
that God is near to the soul on the hill, and hears the
ceaseless ebb and flow of a hopeless love, through all my
But if I can cheat my heart with the old comfort, that
love can be forgotten, is it not better?
After all, living is but to play a part!
The poorest worm would be a jewel-headed snake if
All this grandeur of glare and glitter has its nighttime.
The pallid eyelids must shut out smiles and daylight.
Then I fold my cold hands, and look down at the rest
less rivers of a love that rushes through my life.
Unseen and unknown they tide on over black rocks and
chasms of Death.
Oh, for one sweet word to bridge their terrible depths!
O jealous soul! why wilt thou crave and yearn for what
thou canst not have?
And life is so long--so long
With the daylight comes the business of living.
The prayers that I sent trembling up the golden thread
of hope all come back to me
I lock them close in my bosom, far under the velvet and
roses of the world.
For I know that stronger than these torrents of passion
is the soul that hath lifted itself up to the hill.
What care I for his careless laugh?
I do not sigh; but I know that God hears the life-blood
dripping as I, too, laugh.
I would not be thought a foolish rose, that Haunts her
red heart out to the sun.
Loving is not living!
Yet through all this I know that night will roll back
50from the still, gray plain of heaven, and that my triumph
shall rise sweet with the dawn!
When these mortal mists shall unclother the world, then
shall I be known as I am!
When I dare be dead and buried behind a wall of
wings, then shall he know me!
When this world shall fall, like some old ghost, wrapped
in the black skirts of the wind, down into the fathomless
eternity of fire, then shall souls uprise!
When God shall lift the frozen seal from struggling
voices, then shall we speak!
When the purple-and-gold of our inner natures shall
be lighted up in the Eternity of Truth, then will love be
I can wait.