If You Were Careless

Poem By Stella Benson

IF you were careless ever, if ever a thing you missed
In the forest—a serpent twist
Of shadow, ensnaring the star-lit way of a tree;
If at your wrist
The pulse rang never, never, to the slow bells of the sea;
If a star, quick-carven in frost and in amethyst,
Shone on the thin, thin finger of dawn, you turning away your face:

You shall be sorry, sorry, for when you die,
Those three
Shall follow and follow and find you
As you go through the Difficult Place.
The strong snake-shadows shall bind you,
The swords of the stars shall blind you,
And the terrible bells of the sea shall crash and cry;
The bells of the sea shall ring you out from under the sky,
In a lost grave to lie
Under the ashes of space.
Ah, never look back, run fast, you impotent passer-by!—
Those three
Run behind you.

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