Sibylline Bartering

FATE, the gray Sibyl, with kind eyes above
Closely locked lips, brought youth a merry crew
Of proffered friends ; the price, self-slaying love.
Proud youth repulsed them. She and they withdrew.
Then she brought half the troop ; the cost, the same.
My man’s heart wavered : should I take the few,
And pay the whole ? But while I went and came,
Fate had decided. She and they withdrew.
Once more she came, with two. Now life’s midday
Left fewer hours before me. Lonelier grew
The house and heart. But should the late purse pay
The earlier price ? And she and they withdrew.
At last I saw Age his forerunners send.
Then came the Sibyl, still with kindly eyes
And close-locked lips, and offered me one friend, —
Thee, my one darling ! With what tears and cries
I claimed and claim thee ; ready now to pay
The perfect love that leaves no self to slay !
Andrew Hedbrook.