Eleanor Farjeon ( )

The Unspoken Word


Two years I have lived in a dream
And have dared not to end it
Owned wealth in a measure supreme
And been fearful to spend it.

You, woman of beauty and love
In such noble wise fashioned,
Are my dreams and my rich treasure-trove.
I am shamed that, impassioned,

In secret I levy demands
Upon more than you've given
Crave yourself, heart and soul, eyes and hands,
Which in sum make up heaven.

Unconscious of aught, through these days
You have let me be near you,
Knowing not how your thousand sweet ways
Only serve to endear you

To all in your orbit who move,
In such innocence wronging
As friendship what really is love
And unsatisfied longing.

Yet, your friendshipto be just your friend
So caps love in another,
That I would my love, burned to its end,
In its own smoke might smother,

Lest I in an outbreak one day
Ask of friendship aught stronger
When you may forbid me to say
Even "friend" any longer.

So I come in the old way and go,
While my heart's quickened beatings
Are hidden, and you never know
What I glean from our meetings;

How a word, a look even, which seems
So unconsciously meted,
Builds new dreams on the wreckage of dreams
That were never completed.

You once dropped a flowerdid not see
That I hid in my bosom
What was more than Golconda to me,
And to you a bruised blossom.

Ten seconds I once held your hand
While you pulled from the river
A lily. Could you understand
Why my own hand should quiver?

Small matters these things you account
Who so lightly diffuse them,
But to all my life's joy they amount
And my fear is, to lose them.

One day, when your eyes are still kind
And your voice is still tender,
I shall slip the control of my mind,
All my future surrender,

Obeying the primal desire
To fall down and adore you,
And outpour in one instant of fire
All the love I have for you.

'Twill be death, and far worse, at your feet
When my lips cease to blunder
And I look up your dear eyes to meet
Overrunning with wonder.

Thereafterwhat? Nothing, I fear
Even dreams will have vanished
When I by my act from your sphere
Shall for ever be banished.

Dear, that is the moment I dread
When you hear my confession,
When the word I withhold has been said
And my love finds expression;

But till then (and God knows how I seek
To postpone and postpone it),
Till my love grows too strong, lips too weak
To much longer disown it,

I shall come, if I may, day by day,
My small gleanings to gather,
While you think of mehow shall we say?
As a brother or father;

And you never will guess, till you learn
From a heart brimming over,
That I've met you at every turn
As a passionate lover.


    How long will you hold back, belov'd? How long
    Leave the supreme, the final word unspoken?
    The barrier of silence hold unbroken?
    Menyou, too, being a manhave called you strong,
A doer of big deeds, great acts. But they are wrong.

    You lack in courage. I, being woman, know
    How often woman shapes man's enterprises,
    Cloaking her work in manifold disguises
    Lest he should chafe too large a debt to owe
Strikes every blow up to the very hundredth blow

    That shall at last resolve, achieve, complete
    The foregone nine-and-ninety. This, grown wiser,
    She leaves with him for fear he should despise her.
    He wins the credit for the final feat
Thought of his triumph, not hers, made all her toiling sweet.

    Belov'd, how long before you understand?
    Why, I have known two years you were my lover,
    That all my being to yours was given over!
    The thing your heart most yearns for lies at hand
Awaiting only this, that you shall make demand.

    Have I not worked for all betwixt us two
    Since first I saw your love spring into being,
    And you became too faint of heart for seeing
    That the one peach you longed to garner grew,
Ripened, and mellowed here only for you, for you?

    You would have drawn abashed from out my life
    Had I permitted; it became my mission
    To bring the golden moment to fruition
    Through, ah, how many hours of wistful strife
With you, who guessed not, even, the tender struggle rife

    Between us. When I met you with a smile,
    "Love's not for me," you thought, "yet while she kindly
    Still looks and speaks, I'll stay." And went thus blindly
    Taking for innocence what sprang from guile
That I might hold you by me just a little while.

    The day I dropped a flower upon the path,
    Did you not know it was the thing I aimed for
    When you behind me loitered (somewhat lamed for
    A good excuse), secured it free from scath
And hid it close, to reap therefrom love's aftermath

    In hours when I was absent? Why, I meant,
    Belov'd, that you should have this one flower-treasure
    (Stolen, you thought!) out of my heart's full measure
    Meant that your solitary nights be spent
Cheek to its petals pressed where all my love lay pent.

    And then, the day you helped me from the boat,
    "It is but chance," you thought, "I hold her fingers
    In mine past custom's limit, while she lingers
    To cull the waterlily there afloat."
It was not chance, belov'd. And still you would not note.

    I have done all a woman may do, dear,
    With eyes and hands and tones of voice have spoken,
    In all but words have given you the token
    And seal of love. What is it then you fear?
Can you not take one step, the goal being now so near?

    Just the last word to utter, just the last
    Step to be takenit is very little!
    Can you believe Love's structure is so brittle?
    All I have builded in these two years past
Fall tottering at one word? It is of stronger cast.

    You would not have me speak. That part is yours.
    My share is finished and I wait for you now.
    The time to act has comewhat will you do now?
    Dear, even I'd say the word that all ensures
But that were more than love itself of love endures.

    I had to spend my strength when you were weak,
    Be guide along the road from its beginning
    To the last barrier. Am I worth the winning?
    But you must turn the key. It will not creak.
Beloved, I am waiting still ... will you not speak?

Eleanor Farjeon's other poems:
  1. Three Miles to Penn
  2. Sonnets. 12. I hear love answer: Since within the mesh
  3. Two Choruses from Merlin in Broceliande
  4. Sonnets. 4. Wilt thou put seals on love because men say
  5. Sonnets. 15. Farewell, you children that I might have borne

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