Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916.

199. Caroline Branson

WITH our hearts like drifting suns, had we but walked, 
As often before, the April fields till star-light 
Silkened over with viewless gauze the darkness 
Under the cliff, our trysting place in the wood, 
Where the brook turns! Had we but passed from wooing         5
Like notes of music that run together, into winning, 
In the inspired improvisation of love! 
But to put back of us as a canticle ended 
The rapt enchantment of the flesh, 
In which our souls swooned, down, down,  10
Where time was not, nor space, nor ourselves— 
Annihilated in love! 
To leave these behind for a room with lamps: 
And to stand with our Secret mocking itself, 
And hiding itself amid flowers and mandolins,  15
Stared at by all between salad and coffee. 
And to see him tremble, and feel myself 
Prescient, as one who signs a bond— 
Not flaming with gifts and pledges heaped 
With rosy hands over his brow.  20
And then, O night! deliberate! unlovely! 
With all of our wooing blotted out by the winning, 
In a chosen room in an hour that was known to all! 
Next day he sat so listless, almost cold, 
So strangely changed, wondering why I wept,  25
Till a kind of sick despair and voluptuous madness 
Seized us to make the pact of death. 
A stalk of the earth-sphere, 
Frail as star-light; 
Waiting to be drawn once again  30
Into creation’s stream. 
But next time to be given birth 
Gazed at by Raphael and St. Francis 
Sometimes as they pass. 
For I am their little brother,  35
To be known clearly face to face 
Through a cycle of birth hereafter run. 
You may know the seed and the soil; 
You may feel the cold rain fall, 
But only the earth-sphere, only heaven  40
Knows the secret of the seed 
In the nuptial chamber under the soil. 
Throw me into the stream again, 
Give me another trial— 
Save me, Shelley!  45



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