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Poems About Guilt

Table of Contents

  1. Peace by Bliss Carman
  2. Two Pictures by John Charles McNeill
  3. E Tenebris by Oscar Wilde

  1. Peace

    by Bliss Carman

    The sleeping tarn is dark
    Below the wooded hill.
    Save for its homing sounds,
    The twilit world grows still.

    And I am left to muse
    In grave-eyed mystery,
    And watch the stars come out
    As sandalled dusk goes by.

    And now the light is gone,
    The drowsy murmurs cease,
    And through the still unknown
    I wonder whence comes peace.

    Then softly falls the word
    Of one beyond a name,
    "Peace only comes to him
    Who guards his life from shame, —

    "Who gives his heart to love,
    And holding truth for guide,
    Girds him with fearless strength,
    That freedom may abide."

  2. Two Pictures

    by John Charles McNeill

    One sits in soft light, where the hearth is warm,
    A halo, like an angel's, on her hair.
    She clasps a sleeping infant in her arm.
    A holy presence hovers round her there,
    And she, for all her mother-pains more fair,
    Is happy, seeing that all sweet thoughts that stir
    The hearts of men bear worship unto her.

    Another wanders where the cold wind blows,
    Wet-haired, with eyes that sting one like a knife.
    Homeless forever, at her bosom close
    She holds the purchase of her love and life,
    Of motherhood, unglorified as wife;
    And bitterer than the world's relentless scorn
    The knowing her child were happier never born.

    Whence are the halo and the fiery shame
    That fashion thus a crown and curse of love?
    Have roted words such power to bless and blame?
    Ay, men have stained a raven from many a dove,
    And all the grace and all the grief hereof
    Are the two words which bore one's lips apart
    And which the other hoarded in her heart.

    He who stooped down and wrote upon the sand,
    The God-heart in him touched to tenderness,
    Saw deep, saw what we cannot understand,—
    We, who draw near the shrine of one to bless
    The while we scourge another's sore distress,
    And judge like gods between the ill and good,
    The glory and the guilt of womanhood.

  3. E Tenebris

    by Oscar Wilde

    Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach Thy hand,
    For I am drowning in a stormier sea
    Than Simon on Thy lake of Galilee:
    The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
    My heart is as some famine-murdered land
    Whence all good things have perished utterly,
    And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
    If I this night before God’s throne should stand.
    ‘He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
    Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
    From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.’
    Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night,
    The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,
    The wounded hands, the weary human face.

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