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.
 
998. Ulf in Ireland
 
(A. D. 790)
 
By Charles de Kay
 
 
WHAT then, what if my lips do burn,
        Husband, husband;
What though thou see’st my red lips burn,
Why look’st thou with a look so stern,
        Husband?        5
 
It was the keen wind through the reed,
        Husband, husband:
’T was wind made sharp with sword-edge reed
That made my tender lips to bleed,
        Husband.        10
 
And hath the wind a human tooth,
        Woman, woman?
Can light wind mark like human tooth
A shameful scar of love uncouth,
        Woman?        15
 
What horror lurks within your eyes,
        Husband, husband?
What lurking horror strains your eyes,
What black thoughts from your heart arise,
        Husband?        20
 
Who stood beside you at the gate,
        Woman, woman?
Who stood so near you by the gate
No moon your shapes could separate,
        Woman?        25
 
So God me save, ’t was I alone,
        Husband, husband!
So Christ me save, ’t was I alone
Stood listening to the ocean moan,
        Husband!        30
 
Then hast thou four feet at the least,
        Woman, woman!
Thy Christ hath lent thee four at least,
Oh, viler than four-footed beast,
        Woman!        35
 
A heathen witch hath thee unmanned,
        Husband, husband!
A foul witchcraft, alas, unmanned:
Thou saw’st some old tracks down the sand,
        Husband!        40
 
Yet were they tracks that went not far,
        Woman, woman;
Those ancient foot-marks went not far,
Or else you search the harbor bar,
        Woman.        45
 
It is not yours alone that bleed,
        Woman, woman;
Smooth lips not yours may also bleed,
Your wound has been avenged with speed,
        Woman!        50
 
What talk you so of bar and wound,
        Husband, husband?
What ghastly sign of sudden wound
And kinsman smitten to the ground,
        Husband?        55
 
I saw your blood upon his cheek,
        Woman, woman;
The moon had marked his treacherous cheek,
I marked his heart beside the creek,
        Woman!        60
 
What, have you crushed the only flower,
        Husband, husband!
Among our weeds the only flower?
Henceforward get you from my bower,
        Husband!        65
 
I love you not; I loved but him,
        Husband, husband!
In all the world I loved but him;
Not hell my love for Brenn shall dim,
        Husband!        70
 
He ’s caught her by her jet-black hair;
        Sorrow, sorrow!
He ’s bent her head back by the hair
Till all her throbbing throat lies bare—
        Sorrow!        75
 
You knew me fiercer than the wolf,
        Woman, woman;
You knew I well am named the wolf;
I shall both you and him engulf,
        Woman.        80
 
Yet I to you was always kind,
        Woman, woman;
To serpents only fools are kind;
Yet still with love of you I ’m blind,
        Woman.        85
 
I ’ll look no more upon your face,
        Woman, woman;
These eyes shall never read your face,
For you shall die in this small space,
        Woman!        90
 
He ’s laid his mouth below her chin,
        Horror!
That throat he kissed below the chin
No breath thereafter entered in:
        Horror, horror!        95
 

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