Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
826. My Uninvited Guest
 
By May Riley Smith
 
 
ONE day there entered at my chamber door
A presence whose light footfall on the floor
No token gave; and, ere I could withstand,
Within her clasp she drew my trembling hand.
 
“Intrusive guest,” I cried, “my palm I lend        5
But to the gracious pressure of a friend!
Why comest thou, unbidden and in gloom,
Trailing thy cold gray garments in my room?
 
“I know thee, Pain! Thou art the sullen foe
Of every sweet enjoyment here below;        10
Thou art the comrade and ally of Death,
And timid mortals shrink from thy cold breath.
 
“No fragrant balms grow in thy garden beds,
Nor slumbrous poppies droop their crimson heads;
And well I know thou comest to me now        15
To bind thy burning chains upon my brow!”
 
And though my puny will stood straightly up,
From that day forth I drank her pungent cup,
And ate her bitter bread,—with leaves of rue,
Which in her sunless gardens rankly grew.        20
 
And now, so long it is, I scarce can tell
When Pain within my chamber came to dwell;
And though she is not fair of mien or face,
She hath attracted to my humble place
 
A company most gracious and refined,        25
Whose touches are like balm, whose voices kind:
Sweet Sympathy, with box of ointment rare;
Courage, who sings while she sits weaving there;
 
Brave Patience, whom my heart esteemeth much,
And who hath wondrous virtue in her touch.        30
Such is the chaste and sweet society
Which Pain, my faithful foe, hath brought to me.
 
And now upon my threshold there she stands,
Reaching to me her rough yet kindly hands
In silent truce. Thus for a time we part,        35
And a great gladness overflows my heart;
 
For she is so ungentle in her way
That no host welcomes her or bids her stay;
Yet, though men bolt and bar their house from thee,
To every door, O Pain, thou hast a key!        40
 

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