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The Neglected Wife
JK (1784-1856 / Jamaica)

The Neglected Wife

They tell me that my face is fair,
That sunny smiles are on my cheek—
Yet sorrow hath been busy there,
For many a day—for many a week—
And struggling thoughts I may not speak;
And keen regrets, both deep and keen;
And what if smiles the surface streak,
All cheerless are the depths within!

My marriage troth I gave—received—
While friends stood by with joy elate,
And said, what my fond heart believed,
That mine should be a blest estate.
Ah! better than such wedding-fête,
Ah! better than such bridal bed,
The long-drawn funeral's plumy state,
The winding-sheet that wraps the dead.
For I full many a dream had wove,
Such dreams as cheat the hopes of youth,
Of meeting souls, that meet to love,
Unchanging love! undying truth!
What have I reap'd? the rankling tooth
Of jealousy—His broken vow!
Dreams that ye were, in bitter sooth,
Deceitful dreams! I know ye now.
My faith—my fondness set at nought,
The civil taunt, or insult rude,
The desert heart, where hope is not,
And weeks and months of solitude,

Are these indeed love's proper food?
And still rejected or forlorn,
Still must I quell my boiling blood,
And crouch me to neglect or scorn?
He too—the plighted object—He—
Fond dream of many a shaping mood,
Whom young creative fantasy
With each romantic gift endued,
Was it for this he came and wooed?
Sent by what minister of wrath,
In very form of fair and good—
To mock my faith—to blight my path?
To blight my path! One path there is,
I know—for feet by travel torn,
Which leads to smoother world than this,
And where the wretched cease to mourn.
Oh! teach, kind Heaven! a heart forlorn
To make that path its hope most dear—
Or else all vainly I was born,
For I have nought but sorrow here.

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