Three Letters, by Anna Katherine Green

Three Letters

I   FROM HIM TO HER Sweet, when I gave my troth to you
I loved you--or imagined so;
But winds may change, and clouds that blew
To Eastward at the morn, may blow
Toward the West, by noon, you know.   'Tis not that you are grown less fair;
A rose is e'er a rose to me;
But he who wanders on to where
The pensive violet clusters are,
May chance forget the rose, you see.   And I have wandered: there, 'tis out!
However fickle, false, or wrong,
You cannot say I gave to doubt
The master music of that song
Joy sings in breasts where hopes belong.   You cannot say I was not true
To truth, if not to constancy;
That I still sought to quaff the dew
From off the rose, while secretly
I groped for what more pleasè d me.   Nor will you, being sweet as fair,
Condemn that other fair one's sweetness;
Nor by those charms which make so rare
Your own pure face, disdain the meetness
Of loving grace in its completeness.   For beauty, beauty is; and--well,
A man must worship where he must;
Yet if you chose to hold me, Belle,
Why, I am yours; I would be just;
I pledged, and will fulfill my trust.   And if I wed I will be true;
You need not fear; the wave which holds
A lily up to all men's view,
Scarce spots the silver of its folds
With restless wash of secret molds.   Then tell me, sweet; is't yes or no--
A marriage ring, or short farewell?
Do you still love me, or love so
You can forgive?--The wedding bell
'Gins ringing--then what say you? Tell. II   FROM HER TO HIM What should I say but farewell; is the rose
A thing too slight to stand alone and still
When the wind leaves it? Shall a flower that grows
In God's clear light, more dearly love the thrill
Of its own petals, than the happy sound
Of breezes singing, though their songs should be
For some sweet other blossom far away,
That is no rose to lose them? No; the bliss
Of him to whom I gave my bliss one day
Is much more precious than his troth to me:
I scarce would wish his face again to see,
Its happy smile and tender shine to miss;
Then of the twain it is not yes, but no,
And with the no, farewell. May she, your love,
So live in joy and so in beauty move,
You never may in all your dreams forget
Heaven blooms for you within the violet. III   FROM HIM TO HER Ah, rose, my rose, my love, my queen,
My gentle, faithful, tender heart;
The one fair woman I have seen
With soul to feel for other's smart;
Didst think that I who once had known
Thy wild-rose touch could wander on?   That any blossom 'neath the sun,
Though crowned with heavenly grace and power,
Could fairer seem to me than one
Whose blushes are the summer's dower?
That daintiest violets in the world
Could rival rose-buds half unfurled?   Didst think--but no, thou didst not think--
Thou didst but love! O sweet! O wife!
My one firm hold upon the brink
Of that deep gulf which we call life,
Would thou couldst know my job to find
This angel living in thy mind.   For, sweet, I love thee, loved thee so;
But oh! So feared to trust my love,
Who am no saint, and needs must know
How false the fairest face can prove;
How oft beneath the softest sigh
Heaves woman's heart of vanity.   And soul yields not but to its own;
And I did love thee with my soul;
A stream sings on by weed and stone,
But ocean billows long to roll
The strength and glory of the seas,
Upon their shore of mysteries.   And thou wert shore and all to me;
My star, my crown, my calm retreat;
So dear that I could bear to pain
Thy heart to learn its secret sweet.
Canst pardon then? O sunny shore,
A whole sea waits to tell thee more.   Thou wilt not scorn me? Ah, my pen
Slips at the wild thought to the floor;
Nought else but eyes can plead, love, when
The ghost of death stands in the door;
Then read what I have writ, and say
If love can pardon love alway.   Thou dost not speak. O sweet! O love!
It were not much to die for thee,
But live and know not God above
Could give my heaven back to me--
Ah, canst thou doom it? What, yes? no!
O God, mayst Thou but pardon so! - Anna Katherine Green

Anna Katherine Green