He slept as weary toilers do,
She gazed up at the moon.
He stirred and said, “Wife, come to bed”;
She answered, “Soon, full soon.”
(Oh! that strange mystery of the dead moon’s face.)
Her cheek was wan, her wistful mouth
Was lifted like a cup,
The moonful night dripped liquid light:
She seemed to quaff it up.
(Oh! that unburied corpse that lies in space.)
Her life had held but drudgery–
She spelled her Bible thro’;
Of books and lore she knew no more
Than little children do.
(Oh! the weird wonder of that pallid sphere.)
Her youth had been a loveless waste,
Starred by no holiday.
And she had wed for roof, and bread;
She gave her work in pay.
(Oh! the moon-memories, vague and strange and dear.)
She drank the night’s insidious wine,
And saw another scene:
A stately room–rare flowers in bloom,
Herself in silken sheen.
(Oh! vast the chambers of the moon, and wide.)
A step drew near, a curtain stirred;
She shook with sweet alarms.
Oh! splendid face; oh! manly grace;
Oh! strong impassioned arms.
(Oh! silent moon, what secrets do you hide!)
The warm red lips of thirsting love
On cheek and brow were pressed;
As the bees know where honeys grow,
They sought her mouth, her breast.
(Oh! the dead moon holds many a dead delight.)
The speaker stirred and gruffly spake,
“Come, wife, where have you been?”
She whispered low, “Dear God, I go–
But ’tis the seventh sin.”
(Oh! the sad secrets of that orb of white.)