But For The Grace Of God
“There, but for the grace of God, goes…”
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
There is a question that I ask,
And ask again:
What hunger was half-hidden by the mask
That he wore then?
There was a word for me to say
That I said not;
And in the past there was another day
That I forgot:
A dreary, cold, unwholesome day,
As if the world were turning the wrong way,
And the sun dead:
A day that comes back well enough
Now he is gone.
What then? Has memory no other stuff
To seize upon?
Wherever he may wander now
In his despair,
Would he be more contented in the slough
If all were there?
And yet he brought a kind of light
Into the room;
And when he left, a tinge of something bright
Survived the gloom.
Why will he not be where he is,
And not with me?
The hours that are my life are mine, not his,—
Or used to be.
What numerous imps invisible
Has he at hand,
Far-flying and forlorn as what they tell
At his command?
What hold of weirdness or of worth
Can he possess,
That he may speak from anywhere on earth
Shall I be caught and held again
In the old net?—
He brought a sorry sunbeam with him then,
But it beams yet.