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IT happened thus: my slab, though new,
Was getting weather-stained,--beside,
Herbage, balm, peppermint o'ergrew
Letter and letter: till you tried
Somewhat, the Name was scarce descried.


That strong stern man my lover came:
--Was he my lover? Call him, pray,
My life's cold critic bent on blame
Of all poor I could do or say
To make me worth his love one day--


One far day when, by diligent
And dutiful amending faults,
Foibles, all weaknesses which went
To challenge and excuse assaults
Of culture wronged by taste that halts--


Discrepancies should mar no plan
Symmetric of the qualities
Claiming respect from--say--a man
That's strong and stern. "Once more he pries
Into me with those critic eyes!"


No question! so--"Conclude, condemn
Each failure my poor self avows!
Leave to its fate all you contemn!
There's Solomon's selected spouse:
Earth needs must hold such maids--choose them!"


Why, he was weeping! Surely gone
Sternness and strength: with eyes to ground
And voice a broken monotone--
"Only be as you were! Abound
In foibles, faults,--laugh, robed and crowned


"As Folly's veriest queen,--care I
One feather-fluff? Look pity, Love,
On prostrate me--your foot shall try
This forehead's use--mount thence above,
And reach what Heaven you dignify!"


Now, what could bring such change about?
The thought perplexed: till, following
His gaze upon the ground,--why, out
Came all the secret! So, a thing
Thus simple has deposed a king!


For, spite of weeds that strove to spoil
Plain reading on the lettered slab,
My name was clear enough--no soil
Effaced the date when one chance stab
Of scorn ... if only ghosts might blab!