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Poem by Francis Thompson


A Girl's Sin - In Her Eyes


Cross child! red, and frowning so?
  'I, the day just over,
Gave a lock of hair to--no!
  How DARE you say, my lover?'

He asked you?--Let me understand;
  Come, child, let me sound it!
'Of course, he WOULD have asked it, and--
  And so--somehow--he--found it.

'He told it out with great loud eyes--
  Men have such little wit!
His sin I ever will chastise
  Because I gave him it.

'Shameless in me the gift, alas!
  In him his open bliss:
But for the privilege he has
  A thousand he shall miss!

'His eyes, where once I dreadless laughed,
  Call up a burning blot:
I hate him, for his shameful craft
  That asked by asking not!'

Luckless boy! and all for hair
  He never asked, you said?
'Not just--but then he gazed--I swear
  He gazed it from my head!

'His silence on my cheek like breath
  I felt in subtle way;
More sweet than aught another saith
  Was what he did not say.

'He'll think me vanquished, for this lapse,
  Who should be above him;
Perhaps he'll think me light; perhaps--
  Perhaps he'll think I--love him!

'Are his eyes conscious and elate,
  I hate him that I blush;
Or are they innocent, still I hate--
  They mean a thing's to hush.

'Before he nought amiss could do,
  Now all things show amiss;
'Twas all my fault, I know that true,
  But all my fault was his.

'I hate him for his mute distress,
  'Tis insult he should care!
Because my heart's all humbleness,
  All pride is in my air.

'With him, each favour that I do
  Is bold suit's hallowing text;
Each gift a bastion levelled, to
  The next one and the next.

'Each wish whose grant may him befall
  Is clogged by those withstood;
He trembles, hoping one means all,
  And I, lest perhaps it should.

'Behind me piecemeal gifts I cast,
  My fleeing self to save;
And that's the thing must go at last,
  For that's the thing he'd have.

'My lock the enforc-ed steel did grate
  To cut; its root-thrills came
Down to my bosom.  It might sate
  His lust for my poor shame!

'His sifted dainty this should be
  For a score ambrosial years!
But his too much humility
  Alarums me with fears.

'My gracious grace a breach he counts
  For graceless escalade;
And, though he's silent ere he mounts,
  My watch is not betrayed.

'My heart hides from my soul he's sweet:
  Ah dread, if he divine!
One touch, I might fall at his feet,
  And he might rise from mine.

'To hear him praise my eyes' brown gleams
  Was native, safe delight;
But now it usurpation seems,
  Because I've given him right.

'Before I'd have him not remove,
  Now would not have him near;
With sacrifice I called on Love,
  And the apparition's Fear.'

Foolish to give it!--'Twas my whim,
  When he might parted be,
To think that I should stay by him
  In a little piece of me.

'He always said my hair was soft--
  What touches he will steal!
Each touch and look (and he'll look oft)
  I almost thought I'd feel.

'And then, when first he saw the hair,
  To think his dear amazement!
As if he wished from skies a star,
  And found it in his casement.

'He's kiss the lock--and I had toyed
  With dreamed delight of this:
But ah, in proof, delight was void--
  I could not SEE his kiss!'

So, fond one, half this agony
  Were spared, which my hand hushes,
Could you have played, Sweet, the sweet spy,
  And blushed not for your blushes!



                      Francis Thompson


Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. A Carrier Song
  2. To A Poet Breaking Silence
  3. After Her Going
  4. Gilded Gold
  5. An Arab Love-Song


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