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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Edith (Nesbit) Bland (1858–1924)

A Tragedy

AMONG his books he sits all day

To think and read and write;

He does not smell the new-mown hay,

The roses red and white.

I walk among them all alone,—

His silly, stupid wife;

The world seems tasteless, dead and done—

An empty thing is life.

At night his window casts a square

Of light upon the lawn;

I sometimes walk and watch it there

Until the chill of dawn.

I have no brain to understand

The books he loves to read;

I only have a heart and hand

He does not seem to need.

He calls me “Child”—lays on my hair

Thin fingers, cold and mild;

O God of love, who answers prayer,

I wish I were a child!

And no one sees and no one knows

(He least would know or see)

That ere love gathers next year’s rose,

Death will have gathered me;

And on my grave will bindweed pink

And round-faced daisies grow:

He still will read and write and think,

And never, never know!

It’s lonely in my study here alone,

Now you are gone:

I loved to see your white gown ’mid the flowers,

While hours on hours

I studied—toiled to weave a crown of fame

About your name.

I liked to hear your sweet, low laughter ring;

To hear you sing

About the house while I sat reading here,

My child, my dear;

To know you glad with all the life-joys fair

I dared not share.

I thought there would be time enough to show

My love, you know,

When I could lay with laurels at your feet

Love’s roses sweet;

I thought I could taste love when fame was won—

Now both are done!

Thank God, your child-heart knew not how to miss

The passionate kiss

Which I dared never give, lest love should rise

Mighty, unwise,

And bind me, with my life-work incomplete,

Beside your feet.

You never knew, you lived and were content:

My one chance went;

You died, my little one, and are at rest—

And I, unblest,

Look at these broken fragments of my life,

My child, my wife.