The Beautiful Woman's Wish

THOU strokest back my heavy hair
With smothered praises in thy touch,
Thy long, proud look doth call me fair
Before thy lips have vowed me such.
And when between each long caress
Thou gazest at me held apart,
And with impulsive tenderness
Refoldest closer to thy heart,
Over love’s deep, within thine eyes,
I see the artist’s rapture brood;
And sometimes will this thought arise
(O Love, why must a fear intrude!):
What if some sudden thing, as dread
As that which happened yesterday,
Should write my name among the dead
And steal all but my soul away;
Or, leaving still a feeble life,
Should make me ugly, foul to see:
Couldst thou then call my soul thy wife,
Wouldst thou then love this very me ?
Lest I miss aught of thy heart’s whole,
When changed by some dire mystery;
Would that this dust that clothes my soul
Immortal as itself might be!
Or else that some strange power were thine,
To see my soul itself alway;
And love this fragile form of mine,
As but its likeness wrought in clay.
Charlotte F. Bates.