Your letter came, but came too late,
For Heaven had claimed its own;
Ah, sudden change! from prison bars,
Unto the Great White Throne.
And yet I think he would have stayed
For one more day of pain,
Could he have read these tardy words
Which you have sent in vain.
Why did you wait, fair lady,
Through so many a weary hour?
Had you other lovers with you
In that silken dainty bower?
Did others bow before your charms
And twine bright garland there?
And yet, I ween in all the throng
His spirit had no peer.
I wish that you were here by me now
As I draw the sheet aside,
To see how pure the look he wore
Awhile before he died.
And yet the sorrow that you gave him,
Still had left its weary trace,
And a mere and saintly sadness,
Dwells upon his palid face.
"Her love", he said, "could only change for me,
This winter's cold to spring;"
Ah, trust of thoughtless maiden's love,
Thou art a bitter thing!
For when those valleys fair, in May,
Once more with bloom shall wave,
The northern violets shall blow
Above his humble grave.
Your dole of scanty words had been,
But one more pang to bear;
Though, to the last, he kissed with love,
This tress of your soft hair,
I did not put it where he said;
For when the angels come,
I would not have them find the sign
Of falsehood in the tomb.
I've read the letter and I know
The wiles you have wrought,
To win that noble heart of his,
And gained it - fearful thought!-
What lavish wealth men sometimes give
For a trifle, light and small!
What many forms are often held
In Folly's flimsy thrall!
You shall not pity him for now
He's past your hope and fear;
Although I wish you could stand
With me beside his bier.
Still, I forgive you; Heaven knows
For mercy you'll have need,
Since God his awful judgment sends
On each unworthy deed.
To-night the cold winds whistle by
As I my vigils keep,
Within the prison dead-house where
Few mourners weep.
A rude plank coffin holds him now,
Yet Death gives always grace;
And I would rather see him thus
Than clasped in your embrace.
To-night your rooms are very gay,
With wit, and wine, and song;
And you are smiling just as if
You never did a wrong.
Your hand so fair that none would think
It penned these words of pain;
Your skin so white - would God, your soul,
Were half so free of stain.
I'd rather be this dear, dear friend,
Than you, in all your glee;
For you are held in grievous bonds,
While he's forever free.
Whom we serve in this life, we serve
In that which is to come;
He chose his way, you yours; let God
Pronounce the fitting doom.