Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Lays and Legends (1886)
II. The Depths of the Sea
By Edith (Nesbit) Bland (1858–1924)
 
(For a Picture by E. Burne Jones)

I.
        Habes tota quod mente petisti
Infelix.

IN deep vague spaces of the lonely sea
  She deemed her soulless life was almost fair,
  Yet ever dreamed that in the upper air
Lay happiness—supreme in mystery;
Then saw him—out of reach as you I see—        5
  Worshipped his strength, the brown breast broad and bare,
  The arms that bent the oar, and grew aware
Of what life means, and why it is good to be;
  And yearned for him with all her body sweet,
  Her lithe cold arms, and chill wet bosom’s beat,        10
    Vowed him her beauty’s unillumined shrine:
  So I—seeing you above me—turn and tire,
  Sick with an empty ache of long desire
    To drag you down, to hold you, make you mine!
 
II.
Attained at last—the lifelong longing’s prize!
        15
  Raped from the world of air where warm loves glow
  She bears him through her water-world below;
Yet in those strange, glad, fair, mysterious eyes
The shadow of the after-sorrow lies,
  And of the coming hour, when she shall know        20
  What she has lost in having gained him so,
And whether death life’s longing satisfies.
  She shall find out the meaning of despair,
  And know the anguish of a granted prayer,
    And how, all ended, all is yet undone.        25
  So I—I long for what, far off, you shine,
  Not what you must be ere you could be mine,
    That which would crown despair if it were won.
 
 
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