MADAM, you bade me act a part,
by Edith Nesbit
A comedy of your devising--
Forbade me to consult my heart,
To be sincere--or compromising.
The play was not my own device,
My stage-struck youth lies far behind me;
And yet--I thought it would be nice
To play the part that you assigned me.
Thus have I learned my rôle so well
That, as I play, you question whether
Fate has not taught your jest a spell
To bind me to you altogether.
The truth is this: so ill I wrought
In mastering the part you gave me,
That now 'tis tyrant of my thought,
And nothing in the world can save me!
Between me and my work, your face,
In haunting fashion, daily lingers;
Your eyes make mine their dwelling place
Your dream-hand thrills my idle fingers.
Through death-white nights I dream of you--
Of what might move, and what has moved you--
Ah! no! There's nothing you can do!...
...It's not as though I really loved you.