It is a lie---their Priests, their Pope,
Their Saints, their .
all they fear or hope
Are lies, and lies---there! through my door
And ceiling, there! and walls and floor,
There, lies, they lie---shall still be hurled
Till spite of them I reach the world!
You think Priests just and holy men!
Before they put me in this den
I was a human creature too,
With flesh and blood like one of you,
A girl that laughed in beauty's pride
Like lilies in your world outside.
I had a lover---shame avaunt!
This poor wrenched body, grim and gaunt,
Was kissed all over till it burned,
By lips the truest, love e'er turned
His heart's own tint: one night they kissed
My soul out in a burning mist.
So, next day when the accustomed train
Of things grew round my sense again,
``That is a sin,'' I said: and slow
With downcast eyes to church I go,
And pass to the confession-chair,
And tell the old mild father there.
But when I falter Beltran's name,
``Ha?'' quoth the father; ``much I blame
``The sin; yet wherefore idly grieve?
``Despair not---strenuously retrieve!
``Nay, I will turn this love of thine
``To lawful love, almost divine;
``For he is young, and led astray,
``This Beltran, and he schemes, men say,
``To change the laws of church and state
``So, thine shall be an angel's fate,
``Who, ere the thunder breaks, should roll
``Its cloud away and save his soul.
``For, when he lies upon thy breast,
``Thou mayst demand and be possessed
``Of all his plans, and next day steal
``To me, and all those plans reveal,
``That I and every priest, to purge
``His soul, may fast and use the scourge.
That father's beard was long and white,
With love and truth his brow seemed bright;
I went back, all on fire with joy,
And, that same evening, bade the boy
Tell me, as lovers should, heart-free,
Something to prove his love of me.
He told me what he would not tell
For hope of heaven or fear of hell;
And I lay listening in such pride!
And, soon as he had left my side,
Tripped to the church by morning-light
To save his soul in his despite.
I told the father all his schemes,
Who were his comrades, what their dreams;
``And now make haste,'' I said, ``to pray
``The one spot from his soul away;
``To-night he comes, but not the same
``Will look!'' At night he never came.
Nor next night: on the after-morn,
I went forth with a strength new-born.
The church was empty; something drew
My steps into the street; I knew
It led me to the market-place:
Where, lo, on high, the father's face!
That horrible black scaffold dressed,
That stapled block .
God sink the rest!
That head strapped back, that blinding vest,
Those knotted hands and naked breast,
Till near one busy hangman pressed,
And, on the neck these arms caressed .
No part in aught they hope or fear!
No heaven with them, no hell!---and here,
No earth, not so much space as pens
My body in their worst of dens
But shall bear God and man my cry,
Lies---lies, again---and still, they lie!
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Analysis and Comments on The Confessional
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