No Ring

WHAT is it that doth spoil the fair adorning
With which her body she would dignify,
When from her bed she rises in the morning
To comb, and plait, and tie
Her hair with ribbons colored like the sky ?
What is it that her pleasure discomposes
When she would sit and sing the sun away,—
Making her see dead roses in red roses,
And in the dewfall gray
A blight that seems the world to overlay ?
What is it makes the trembling look of trouble
About her tender mouth and eyelids fair ?
Ah me, ah me ! she feels her heart beat double,
Without the mother’s prayer,
And her wild fears are more than she can bear.
To the poor sightless lark new powers are given,
Not only with a golden tongue to sing,
But still to make her wavering way toward heaven
With undiscerning wing;
But what to her doth her sick sorrow bring ?
Her days she turns, and yet keeps overturning,
And her flesh shrinks, as if she felt the rod ;
For, ’gainst her will, she thinks hard things concerning
The everlasting God,
And longs to be insensate, like the clod.
Sweet Heaven, be pitiful ! rain down upon her
The saintly charities ordained for such;
She was so poor in everything but honor,
And she loved much,— loved much !
Would, Lord, she had thy garment’s hem to touch.
Haply, it was the hungry heart within her,
The woman’s heart, denied its natural right,
That made her be the thing men call a sinner,
Even in her own despite.
Lord, that her judges might receive their sight !

Alice Cary.