In the midnight of darkness and terror,
When I would grope nearer to God,
With my back to a record of error
And the highway of sin I have trod,
There come to me shapes I would banish--
The shapes of the deeds I have done;
And I pray and I plead till they vanish--
All vanish and leave me, save one.
That one, with a smile like the splendor
Of the sun in the middle-day skies--
That one, with a spell that is tender--
That one with a dream in her eyes--
Cometh close, in her rare Southern beauty,
Her languor, her indolent grace;
And my soul turns its back on its duty,
To live in the light of her face.
She touches my cheek, and I quiver--
I tremble with exquisite pains;
She sighs -- like an overcharged river
My blood rushes on through my veins;
She smiles -- and in mad-tiger fashion,
As a she-tiger fondles her own,
I clasp her with fierceness and passion,
And kiss her with shudder and groan.
Once more, in our love's sweet beginning,
I put away God and the World;
Once more, in the joys of our sinnings,
Are the hopes of eternity hurled.
There is nothing my soul lacks or misses
As I clasp the dream-shape to my breast;
In the passion and pain of her kisses
Life blooms to its richest and best.
O ghost of dead sin unrelenting,
Go back to the dust, and the sod!
Too dear and too sweet for repenting,
Ye stand between me and my God.
If I, by the Throne, should behold you,
Smiling up with those eyes loved so well,
Close, close in my arms I would fold you,
And drop with you down to sweet Hell!