No Name

Original Text: 
Poems, ed. Robert A. Thompson (London and Melbourne: A. H. Massina, 1920). Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored by AustLit: http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit
'A stone upon her heart and head,
    But no name written on that stone;
Sweet neighbours whisper low instead,
    This sinner was a loving one.' -- Mrs. Browning.
1'Tis a nameless stone that stands at your head --
2    The gusts in the gloomy gorges whirl
3Brown leaves and red till they cover your bed --
4    Now I trust that your sleep is a sound one, girl!
5I said in my wrath, when the shadow cross'd
6    From your garden gate to your cottage door,
7'What does it matter for one soul lost?
8    Millions of souls have been lost before.'
9Yet I warn'd you -- ah! but my words came true --
10    'Perhaps some day you will find him out.'
11He who was not worthy to loosen your shoe,
12    Does his conscience therefore prick him? I doubt.
13You laugh'd and were deaf to my warning voice --
15You have had your chance, you have taken your choice --
16    How could I help you, standing aloof?
17He has prosper'd well with the world -- he says
18    I am mad -- if so, and if he be sane,
19I, at least, give God thanksgiving and praise
20    That there lies between us one difference plain.
        * * * * *
21You in your beauty above me bent
22    In the pause of a wild west country ball --
23Spoke to me -- touched me without intent --
24    Made me your servant for once and all.
25Light laughter rippled your rose-red lip,
26    And you swept my cheek with a shining curl,
27That stray'd from your shoulder's snowy tip --
28    Now I pray that your sleep is a sound one, girl!
29From a long way off to look at your charms
30    Made my blood run redder in every vein,
31And he -- he has held you long in his arms,
32    And has kiss'd you over and over again.
33Is it well that he keeps well out of my way?
34    If we met, he and I -- we alone -- we two --
35Would I give him one moment's grace to pray?
36    Not I, for the sake of the soul he slew.
39But it matters much for your sweet soul lost,
40    As much as a million souls and more.
41And I know that if, here or there, alone,
42    I found him, fairly and face to face,
43Having slain his body, I would slay my own,
44    That my soul to Satan his soul might chase.
45He hardens his heart in the public way --
47But God will put all things straight some day --
48    Till then may your sleep be a sound one, girl!

Notes

14] cloven hoof: a euphemism for the devil, who was thought to have cloven hoofs; a person who has fiendish, evil or cruel aspects traditionally ascribed to the devil. Back to Line
37] shuttlecock: a cork to which feathers are attached to form a cone shape (or a similar plastic object), which is struck with rackets in games such as badminton. Back to Line
38] battledore: a game played with shuttlecock and rackets which was a forerunner to badminton. Back to Line
46] churl: a person of low birth; peasant. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1870
Publication Notes: 
Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes (1870)
RPO poem Editors: 
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: