Cruelty and Love

 What large, dark hands are those at the window 
Lifted, grasping in the yellow light 
Which makes its way through the curtain web 
At my heart to-night? 

Ah, only the leaves! So leave me at rest, 
In the west I see a redness come 
Over the evening's burning breast -- 
For now the pain is numb.
The woodbine creeps abroad Calling low to her lover: The sunlit flirt who all the day Has poised above her lips in play And stolen kisses, shallow and gay Of dalliance, now has gone away -- She woos the moth with her sweet, low word, And when above her his broad wings hover Then her bright breast she will uncover And yeild her honey-drop to her lover.
Into the yellow, evening glow Saunters a man from the farm below, Leans, and looks in at the low-built shed Where hangs the swallow's marriage bed.
The bird lies warm against the wall.
She glances quick her startled eyes Towards him, then she turns away Her small head, making warm display Of red upon the throat.
Her terrors sway Her out of the nest's warm, busy ball, Whose plaintive cries start up as she flies In one blue stoop from out the sties Into the evening's empty hall.
Oh, water-hen, beside the rushes Hide your quaint, unfading blushes, Still your quick tail, and lie as dead, Till the distance covers his dangerous tread.
The rabbit presses back her ears, Turns back her liquid, anguished eyes And crouches low: then with wild spring Spurts from the terror of the oncoming To be choked back, the wire ring Her frantic effort throttling: Piteous brown ball of quivering fears! Ah soon in his large, hard hands she dies, And swings all loose to the swing of his walk.
Yet calm and kindly are his eyes And ready to open in brown surprise Should I not answer to his talk Or should he my tears surmise.
I hear his hand on the latch, and rise from my chair Watching the door open: he flashes bare His strong teeth in a smile, and flashes his eyes In a smile like triumph upon me; then careless-wise He flihgs the rabbit soft on the table board And comes towards me: ah, the uplifted sword Of his hand against my bosom, and oh, the broad Blade of his hand that raises my face to applaud His coming: he raises up my face to him And caresses my mouth with his fingers, smelling grim Of the rabbit's fur! God, I am caught in a snare! I know not what fine wire is round my throat, I only know I let him finger there My pulse of life, letting him nose like a stoat Who sniffs with joy before he drinks the blood: And down his mouth comes to my mouth, and down His dark bright eyes descend like a fiery hood Upon my mind: his mouth meets mine, and a flood Of sweet fire sweeps across me, so I drown Within him, die, and find death good.

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