To Mrs. by Frances Fuller Victor

I cannot find the meaning out

That lies in wrong and pain and strife;

I know not why we grope through grief,

Tear-blind, to touch the higher life.

I see the world so subtly fair,

My heart with beauty often aches;

But ere I quiet this sweet pain,

Some cross so presses, the heart breaks.

To-day, this lovely golden day,

When heaven and earth are steeped in calm;

When every lightest air that blows,

Sheds its delicious freight of balm.

If I but ope my lips, I sob;

If but an eyelid lift, I weep;

I deprecate all good or ill,

And only wish for endless sleep.

For who, I ask, has set my feet

In all these dark and troubled ways?

And who denies my soul's desire,

When with its might it cries and prays?

In my unconscious veins there runs

Perchance, some old ancestral taint;

In Eve I sinned: poor Eve and I!

We each may utter one complaint:—

One and the same—for knowledge came

Too late to save her paradise;

And I my paradise have lost;

Forsooth because I am not wise.

O vain traditions! small the aid

We women gather from your lore:

Why, when the world was lost, did death

Not come our children's birth before?

It had been better to have died,

Sole prey of death, and ended so;

Than to have dragged through endless time,

One long, unbroken trail of woe.

To suffer, yet not expiate;

To die at last, yet not atone;

To mourn our heirship to a guilt,

Erased by innocent blood alone!

You lift your hands in shocked surprise;

You say enough I have not prayed:

Can prayer go back through centuries,

And change the web of fate one braid?

Nay, own the truth, and say that we

Are but the bonded slaves of doom;

Unconscious to the cradle came,

Unwilling must go to the tomb.

Your woman's hands are void of help,

Though my soul should be stung to death;

Could I avert one pang from you,

Imploring with my latest breath?

And men!—we suffer any wrong

That men, or mad, or blind, may do;—

Let me alone in my despair!

There is no help for me or you.

I wait to find the meaning out

That lies beyond the bitter end;

Comfort yourself with 'wearying heaven,

I ask no comfort, oh my friend!