Menken, Adah Isaacs
LEAVE me; oh! leave me,
Lest I find this low earth sweeter than the skies.
Leave me lest I deem Faith's white bosom bared to
the betraying arms of Death.
Hush your fond voice, lest it shut out the angel
See my o'er wearied feet bleed for rest.
Loose the clinging and the clasping of my clammy
Your soft hand of Love may press back the dark,
awful shadows of Death, but the soul faints in the strife
and struggles of nights that have no days.
I am so weary with this climbing up the smooth steep
sides of the grave wall.
My dimmed eyes can no longer strain up through the
darkness to the temples and palaces that you have built
for me upon life's summit.
God is folding up the white tent of my youth.
My name is enrolled for the pallid army of the dead.
It is too late, too late!
You may not kiss back my breath to the sunshine.110How can these trembling hands of dust reach up to
bend the untempered iron of Destiny down to my woman
Where is the sedge to split its knotty way between the
past and the Future?
The soaring bird that would sing its life out to the stars,
may not leave its own atmosphere;
For, in the long dead reaches of blank space in the
Beyond, its free wings fall back to earth baffled.
Once gathering all my sorrows up to one purpose--
rebel-like--I dared step out into Light, when, lo! Death
tied my unwilling feet, and with hands of ice, bandaged
my burning lips, and set up, between my eyes and the
Future, the great Infinite of eternity, full in the blazing
sun of my Hope!
From the red round life of Love I have gone down to
the naked house of Fear.
Drowned in a storm of tears.
My wild wings of thought drenched from beauty to the
color of the ground.
Going out at the hueless gates of day.
Oh! is there no strength is sorrow, or in prayers?
Is there no power in the untried wings of the soul, to
smite the brazen portals of the sun?
Must the black-sandaled foot of Night tramp out the
one star that throbs through the darkness of my waning
life?111May not the strong arm of " I will," bring some beam
to lead me into my sweet Hope again?
Alas, too late! too late!
The power of these blood-dripping cerements sweeps
back the audacious thought to emptiness
Hungry Death will not heed the poor bird that has
tangled its bright wing through my deep-heart pulses.
Moaning and living.
Dying and loving.
See the poor wounded snake; how burdened to the
How it lengthens limberly along the dust.
Now palpitates into brights rings only to unwind, and
reach its bleeding head up the steep high walls around us.
Now, alas! falling heavily back into itself, quivering
with unuttered pain;
Chocking with its own blood it dies in the dust.
So we are crippled ever;
Reaching and falling,
Silent and dying.
Gold and gleaming jewel shatter off their glory well in
the robes of royalty, but when we strain against the
whelming waves, the water gurgling down our drowning
throats, we shred them off, and hug the wet, cold rocks
Then old death goes moaning back from the steady
footing of life baffled.112Ah! is it too late for me to be wise.
Will my feeble hands fail me in the moveless stepping
back to the world?
Oh! if youth were only back!
Oh! if the years would only empty back their ruined
days into the lap of the present!
Oh! if yesterday would only unravel the light it wove
into the purple of the Past!
Ah! them might I be vigilant!
Then might the battle be mine!
Nor should my sluggish blood drip down the rocks till
the noon-tide sun should draw it up mistily in smoke.
Then should the heaviness of soul have dropped as
trees do their weight of rainy leaves.
Nor should the sweet leash of love have slipped from
my hungry life, and left me pining, drying for his strength.
I should have wrapt up my breathing in the naked
bosom of Nature, and she would have kissed me back to
sweetest comfort, and I would have drawn up from her
heart draughts of crusted nectar and promises of eternal
Oh! it is not the glittering garniture of God's things
that come quivering into the senses, that makes our lives
look white through the windings of the wilderness.
It is the soul's outflow of purple light that clashes up a
music with the golden blood of strong hearts.
Souls with God's breath upon them,
Hearts with Love's light upon them.
If my weak puny hand could reach up and rend the sun113from his throne to-day, them were the same but a little
thing for me to do.
It is the Far of the great Unattainable, that feeds the
passion we feel for a star.
Looking up so high, worshiping so silently, we tramp
out the hearts of flowers that lift their bright heads for us
and die alone.
If only the black, steep grave gaped between us, I feel
that I could over-sweep all its gulfs.
I believe that love may unfold its white wings even in
the red bosom of Hell.
I know that its truth can measure the distance to
Heaven with one thought.
Then be content to let me go, for these pale hands
shall reach up from the grace, and still draw the living
waters of Lover's well.
That is better, surer than climbing with bruised feet
and bleeding hands to plead with the world for what is
Then straighten out the crumpled length of my hair,
and loose all the flowers one by one.
God is not unjust.
Oh! in the great strength of thy unhooded soul, pray
for my weakness.
Let me go! See the pale and solemn army of the
night is on the march.
Do not let my shivering soul go wailing up for a human
love to the throne of the Eternal.
Have we not watched the large setting sun drive a114column of light through the horizon down into the
So within the grave's night, O my beloved! shall my
love burn on to eternity.
O Death! Death! loose out thy cold, stiff fingers from
my quivering heart!
Let the warm blood rush back to gasp up but one more
O Love! thou art stronger, mightier than all!
O Death! thou hast but wedded me to Life!
Life is Love, and Love is Eternity.