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    INTO THE DEPTHS.   Table of Contents     ONE YEAR AGO.

Menken, Adah Isaacs
Infelicia

- INFELICIA.
- SALE OF SOULS.


SALE OF SOULS.

I.


OH, I am wild--wild!
Angels of the weary-hearted, come
to thy child.
Spread your white wings over me!
Tenderly, tenderly,
Lovingly, lovingly,
Plead for me, plead for me!

II.


Souls for sale! souls for sale!
Souls for gold! who'll buy?
In the pent-up city, through the wild rush and beat of
human hearts, I hear this unceasing, haunting cry:
Souls for sale! souls for sale!
Through mist and gloom,
Through hate and love,
Through peace and strife,
Through wrong and right,
Through life and death,
The hoarse voice of the world echoes up the cold gray
sullen river of life.
On, on, on!
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No silence until it shall have reached the solemn sea of
God's for ever;
No rest, no sleep;
Waking through the thick gloom of midnight, to hear the
damning cry as it mingles and clashes with the rough
clang of gold.
Poor Heart, poor Heart,
Alas! I know thy fears.

III.


The hollow echoes that the iron-shod feet of the years
throw back on the sea of change still vibrate through
the grave-yard of prayers and tears--
Prayers that fell unanswered,
Tears that followed hopelessly.
But pale Memory comes back through woe and shame
and strife, bearing on her dark wings their buried
voices;
Like frail helpless barks, they wail through the black sea
of the crowded city,
Mournfully, mournfully.

IV.


Poor Heart, what do the waves say to thee?
The sunshine laughed on the hill sides.
The link of years that wore a golden look bound me to
woman-life by the sweet love of my Eros, and the
voice of one who made music to call me mother.
Weak Heart, weak Heart!
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58

Oh, now I reel madly on through clouds and storms and
night.
The hills have grown dark,
They lack the grace of my golden-haired child, to climb
their steep sides, and bear me their smiles in the
blue-eyed violets of our spring-time.
Sad Heart, what do the hills say to thee?
They speak of my Eros, and how happily in the dim discolored
hours we dreamed away the glad light, and
watched the gray robes of night as she came through
the valley, and ascended on her way to the clouds.
Kisses of joy, and kisses of life,
Kisses of heaven, and kisses of earth,
Clinging and clasping white hands;
Mingling of soft tresses;
Murmurings of love, and murmurings of life,
With the warm blood leaping up in joy to answer its
music;
The broad shelter of arms wherein dwelt peace and content
so sweet to love.
All, all were mine.
Loving Heart, loving Heart,
Hush the wailing and sobbing voice of the past;
Sleep in thy rivers of the soul,
Poor Heart.

V.


Souls for sale!
The wild cry awoke the god of ambition, that slumbered
in the bosom of Eros;
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From out the tents he brought forth his shield and spear,
to see them smile back at the sun;
Clad in armor, he went forth to the cities of the world,
where brave men battle for glory, and souls are bartered
for gold.
Weeping and fearing, haggard and barefoot, I clung to him
with my fainting child.
Weary miles of land and water lay in their waste around
us.
We reached the sea of the city.
Marble towers lifted their proud heads beyond the scope
of vision.
Wild music mingled with laughter.
The tramp of hoofs on the iron streets, and the cries of the
drowning, and the curses of the damned were all heard
in that Babel, where the souls of men can be bought
for gold.
All the air seemed dark with evil wings.
And all that was unholy threw their shadows everywhere,
Shadows on the good,
Shadows on the bad,
Shadows on the lowly,
Shadows on the lost!
All tossing upon the tide of rushing, restless destiny;
Upon all things written:
Souls for sale!
Lost Heart, lost Heart!

VI.


A soul mantled in glory, and cold to the world;
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O horrible sale!
O seal of blood!
Give back my Eros.
His bowstring still sounds on the blast, yet his arrow was
broken in the fall.
Oh leave me not on the wreck of this dark-bosomed ship
While Eros lies pale on the rocks of the world.
Driven before the furious gale by the surging ocean's
strife;
The strong wind lifting up the sounding sail, and whistering
through the ropes and masts; waves lash the
many-colored sides of the ship, dash her against the
oozy rocks.
The strength of old ocean roars.
The low booming of the signal gun is heard above the
tempest.
Oh how many years must roll their slow length along my
life, ere the land be in sight!
When will the morning dawn?
When will the clouds be light?
When will the storm be hushed!
It is so dark and cold.
Angels of the weary-hearted, come to your child!
Build your white wings around me.
Tenderly, tenderly,
Pity me, pity me.
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    INTO THE DEPTHS.   Table of Contents     ONE YEAR AGO.