Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
165. Vain Death
 
By Archibald T. Strong
 
 
ALL the first night she might not weep
  But watched till morning came,
And when she slept at dawn, she heard
  The dead man call her name.
 
The second night she watched and wept        5
  And called on death for grace,
And when she slept before the dawn
  She saw the dead man’s face.
 
The third night through she laughed as one
  That knows her way to bliss,        10
And in the instant ere she slept
  She felt the dead man’s kiss.
 
She rose and faced the flickering fire
  (And oh, but she was fair!),
Like a wild witch behind her danced        15
  The shadow of her hair.
 
She took her penknife from its sheath,
  The tender blade she kissed,
And by the firelight’s dying leap
  She bared her little wrist.        20
 
And where the vein ran large and blue
  She cut, once and again,
Yet ere she swooned from life, she knew
  Her death had been in vain.
 
For while life thundered in her ears,        25
  Ere yet her pulse might fail,
Far off across the kindless night
  She heard the dead man’s wail,
 
And knew her doom was one with theirs
  That kill the life God gave,        30
And that she might not leave this earth
  Her soul alive to save,
But ay must dwell within that house
  As in a living grave,
 
While he for whom she died might ne’er        35
  Win to her in that place,
But must for ever make his moan
Ranging in agony alone
  The trackless void of space.
 

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