Original Text: 
Amy Levy, A Minor Poet And other Verse, 2nd edn. (1884: London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1891), pp. 65-68. PR 4886 L25M5 Robarts Library.
2The bare, blank room where is no sun;
3The parcelled hours; the pallet hard;
4The dreary faces here within;
5The outer women's cold regard;
6The Pastor's iterated "sin";--
7These things could I endure, and count
8No overstrain'd, unjust amount;
9No undue payment for such bliss--
10Yea, all things bear, save only this:
11That you, who knew what thing would be,
12Have wrought this evil unto me.
13It is so strange to think on still--
14That you, that you should do me ill!
15Not as one ignorant or blind,
16But seeing clearly in your mind
17How this must be which now has been,
18Nothing aghast at what was seen.
19Now that the tale is told and done,
20It is so strange to think upon.
21You were so tender with me, too!
22One summer's night a cold blast blew,
23Closer about my throat you drew
24That half-slipt shawl of dusky blue.
25And once my hand, on summer's morn,
26I stretched to pluck a rose; a thorn
27Struck through the flesh and made it bleed
28(A little drop of blood indeed!)
29Pale grew your cheek you stoopt and bound
30Your handkerchief about the wound;
31Your voice came with a broken sound;
32With the deep breath your breast was riven;
33I wonder, did God laugh in Heaven?
34How strange, that you should work my woe!
35How strange! I wonder, do you know
36How gladly, gladly I had died
37(And life was very sweet that tide)
38To save you from the least, light ill?
39How gladly I had borne your pain.
40With one great pulse we seem'd to thrill,--
41Nay, but we thrill'd with pulses twain.
42Even if one had told me this,
43"A poison lurks within your kiss,
44Gall that shall turn to night his day:"
45Thereon I straight had turned away--
46Ay, tho' my heart had crack'd with pain--
47And never kiss'd your lips again.
48At night, or when the daylight nears,
49I hear the other women weep;
50My own heart's anguish lies too deep
51For the soft rain and pain of tears.
52I think my heart has turn'd to stone,
53A dull, dead weight that hurts my breast;
54Here, on my pallet-bed alone,
55I keep apart from all the rest.
56Wide-eyed I lie upon my bed,
57I often cannot sleep all night;
58The future and the past are dead,
59There is no thought can bring delight.
60All night I lie and think and think;
61If my heart were not made of stone,
62But flesh and blood, it needs must shrink
63Before such thoughts. Was ever known
64A woman with a heart of stone?
65The doctor says that I shall die.
66It may be so, yet what care I?
67Endless reposing from the strife?
68Death do I trust no more than life.
69For one thing is like one arrayed,
70And there is neither false nor true;
71But in a hideous masquerade
72All things dance on, the ages through.
73And good is evil, evil good;
74Nothing is known or understood
75Save only Pain. I have no faith
76In God, or Devil, Life or Death.
77The doctor says that I shall die.
78You, that I knew in days gone by,
79I fain would see your face once more,
80Con well its features o'er and o'er;
81And touch your hand and feel your kiss,
82Look in your eyes and tell you this:
83That all is done, that I am free;
84That you, through all eternity,
85Have neither part nor lot in me.


1] Jesus healed Mary Magdalen by casting out of her some seven devils (Luke 8.2; Matthew 27.56), often associated with the seven deadly sins. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to her in the garden, telling her "Touch me not" (John 20.11-17; cf. line 81 below). Afterwards, "she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not" (Mark 16.9-11; Luke 24-10-11; cf. line 49 below). Traditionally Mary is identified with the unnamed sinner in Luke 7.37-50. Unorthodox interpretations make her the beloved of Christ. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.