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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Ebenezer Jones 1820–60

The Face

THESE dreary hours of hopeless gloom

Are all of life I fain would know;

I would but feel my life consume,

While bring they back mine ancient woe;

For, midst the clouds of grief and shame

That crowd around, one face I see;

It is the face I dare not name,

The face none ever name to me.

I saw it first when in the dance

Borne, like a falcon, down the hall,

He stay’d to cure some rude mischance

My girlish deeds had caused to fall;

He smil’d, he danced with me, he made

A thousand ways to soothe my pain;

And sleeplessly all night I pray’d

That I might see that smile again.

I saw it next, a thousand times;

And every time its kind smile near’d;

Oh! twice ten thousand glorious chimes

My heart rang out, when he appear’d;

What was I then, that others’ thought

Could alter so my thought of him;

That I could be by others taught

His image from my heart to dim!

I saw it last, when black and white

Shadows went struggling o’er it wild;

When he regain’d my long-lost sight,

And I with cold obeisance smil’d;—

I did not see it fade from life;

My letters o’er his heart they found;

They told me in death’s last hard strife

His dying hands around them wound.

Although my scorn that face did maim,

Even when its love would not depart;

Although my laughter smote its shame

And drave it swording through his heart;

Although its death-gloom grasps my brain

With crushing unrefus’d despair;

That I may dream that face again

God still must find alone my prayer.