Broken Off

The sun flares out in the ruddy east,
The ships stand rigid, like ghostly trees:
The roar and rattle of work have ceased,
The bathers' laugh comes up on the breeze,
And in the flash of the sunset gold
I count the chests I have bought and sold.

I am not old; yet my hair turns white,
My face is growing too wise and keen:
I hunt for money with all my might—
But God best knows what I might have been
If one, now wearing a poet's bays,
Had kept the troth of her girlish days!

I praised her songs when none else would heed,
Yet not for her songs I loved her so:
O God! has a woman's heart no need
For quiet shelter from Fame's dread glow?
Surely her genius had lost no light
If she had kept to her early plight!

I gave my best, and she threw it down:
I never can be my best again;
But I just live on in the noisy town,
One grows accustomed to any pain
And in the flush of the evening gold,
I count the chests I have bought and sold.

Oh, surely a soul to whom God gives
A sight of the angels' singing-book,
Should grow so pure in the life it lives
As not to blush at an angel's look.
But still she blushes when I go by,
And yet no angel at all am I!

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