By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
He slept as weary toilers do;
She gazed up at the moon.
He stirred and said, “Wife, come to bed;”
She answered, “Soon, full soon.”
(Oh, that strange mystery of the dead moon’s face!)
Her cheek was wan; her wistful mouth
Was lifted like a cup.
The moonfull night dripped liquid light;
She seemed to quaff it up.
(Oh, that unburied corpse that lies in space!)
Her life had held but drudgery;
She spelled her Bible through.
Of book and lore she knew no more
Than little children do.
(Oh, the wierd wonder of that pallid sphere!)
Her youth had been a leaden sky
Starred by no holiday,
And she had wed for roof and bread;
She gave her work in pay.
(Oh, the moon memories, vague and sweet and dear!)
She drank the night’s insidious wine,
And saw another scene–
A stately room, rare flowers in bloom,
Herself in silken sheen.
(Oh, vast the chambers of the moon and wide!)
A step drew near, a curtain stirred;
She shook with sweet alarms.
Oh, splendid face! oh, manly grace!
Oh, strong outreaching arms!
(Oh, silent moon, what secrets do you hide!)
The burning lips of thirsting love
Were parched with passion’s drouth.
As the bee knows where honey grows,
They sought her cheek, her mouth.
(Oh, the dead moon holds many a dead delight!)
The sleeper stirred and gruffly spoke:
“Come, wife! Where have you been?”
She whispered low, “Dear God, I go–
But ’tis the seventh sin.”
(Oh, the sad secrets of that orb of white!)