"Marred" by Mabel Forrest

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I look across the lighted room, 
Across the glory and the bloom, 
      The ballroom's pride; 
Beyond, the garden slopes away,
Beyond the garden lies the bay 
      Where great ships ride. 

A mingled perfume comes to me, 
With scent of rotes, breath of sea --
      A woman's gown 
Swirls softly by me in the light -- 
It hardly seems as if the night 
      Had touched the town; 

Millions of lamps are sparkling out, 
The music sobs, a distant shout 
      Comes to the ear; 
The dark waves catch the city's gleam, 
And like the phantoms of a dream 
      The boats appear. 

And you, away on misty plains, 
Hear, instead of music's strains, 
      The cattle low; 
And, stretched at length by dying fires, 
Do you guess how my heart desires   
      The long ago?   

Or, dully tired, worn, and tried 
By the hot day's long dreary ride, 
      Seek only rest; 
Not pondering on an easier past, 
Nor of the time your head lay last 
      Upon my breast? 

Oh! thoughts that flee across the waste 
Of scrub and plain, why would you haste 
      To woo him back? 
The path it rough his feet must tread, 
For me the lilies bloom instead 
      Adown the track --

The lily buds of luxury --
The rough for him, the smooth for me. 
      Oh! broken troth;   
Oh! hands that used to touch my hair 
When life before seemed only fair, 
      Smooth for us both. 

And then--the gilding fell away. 
What use had I for common clay?   
      And so --" Good-bye!" 
The gold had gone, the love must go --
Have I not always learnt it so? 
      Can wisdom lie? 

"A girl must train her heart," they said, 
God help her! she were better dead 
      Than living so. 
I sold my lips to other lips 
Not fit to touch his fingertips. 
     I sank so low, 

I broke the only loyal heart; 
My friends, steel-banded, bade us part 
   For good of all --
Dear heaven! Hardly bought, such peace -- 
I bowed, and gave him his release, 
      Nor saw my fall. 

I thought that I had done full well, 
Condemning one proud soul to hell, 
   And hid my tears. 
Oh! had they known, advising me, 
My unborn powers of misery 
      Thro' coming years, 

They sorely would instead have taught 
That gilded chains are dearly bought, 
      That love must live, 
If not to good, to grief and shame. 
And yet I was the most to blame, 
      And I forgive. 

The slender band my band must hold 
Feels heavy, tho' it is of gold, 
      Placed fondly on; 
And I, so young to be a wife, 
May still live fifty years of life 
      While you are gone!

First published in The Queenslander, 2 January 1897

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 2, 2014 7:48 AM.

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