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.