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Nepenthe

by
 Yes, it was like you to forget, 
And cancel in the welcome of your smile 
My deep arrears of debt,
And with the putting forth of both your hands 
To sweep away the bars my folly set
Between us -- bitter thoughts, and harsh demands, 
And reckless deeds that seemed untrue 
To love, when all the while
My heart was aching through and through 
For you, sweet heart, and only you.
Yet, as I turned to come to you again, I thought there must be many a mile Of sorrowful reproach to cross, And many an hour of mutual pain To bear, until I could make plain That all my pride was but the fear of loss, And all my doubt the shadow of despair To win a heart so innocent and fair; And even that which looked most ill Was but the fever-fret and effort vain To dull the thirst which you alone could still.
But as I turned the desert miles were crossed, And when I came the weary hours were sped! For there you stood beside the open door, Glad, gracious, smiling as before, And with bright eyes and tender hands outspread Restored me to the Eden I had lost.
Never a word of cold reproof, No sharp reproach, no glances that accuse The culprit whom they hold aloof, -- Ah, 't is not thus that other women use The power they have Won! For there is none like you, belovèd, -- none Secure enough to do what you have done.
Where did you learn this heavenly art, -- You sweetest and most wise of all that live, -- With silent welcome to impart Assurance of the royal heart That never questions where it would forgive? None but a queen could pardon me like this! My sovereign lady, let me lay Within each rosy palm a loyal kiss Of penitence, then close the fingers up, Thus -- thus! Now give the cup Of full nepenthe in your crimson mouth, And come -- the garden blooms with bliss, The wind is in the south, The rose of love with dew is wet -- Dear, it was like you to forget!

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