(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England)

The Poor Man's Guest

ONE came to me in royal guise
With banners flying fair and free
But many griefs had made me wise
And I refused to bow the knee.

Then one drew near who bore the flower
Of all the flowers of June and May;
But many griefs had lent me power
And I was strong to turn away.

Then came a beggar to my gate
With shoulders bowed to sorrow's pack,
So weary and so desolate
I had no heart to turn him back.

I let him share my board, my bed,
I warmed him in my shrinking breast,
I gave him all I had, and said:
'You, only you, have been my guest.

'Love passed in many a fair disguise
But never could an entrance win,
But you came in such piteous wise,
Poor friend, I could but let you in.'

Low laughed my guest: 'Kind friend!' said he,
And dropped the rags he was weary of;
And I, betrayed, saw over me
The terrible face of outraged Love.

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