Why have I girt myself with this hell-dress?
Why have I laboured to put out my life?
Is it not in my nature to adore,
And e’en for all my reason do I not
Feel him, and thank him, and pray to him—now?
Can I forgo the trust that he loves me?
Do I not feel a love which only ONE…
O thou pale form, so dimly seen, deep-eyed,
I have denied thee calmly—do I not
Pant when I read of thy consummate deeds,
And burn to see thy calm pure truths out-flash
The brightest gleams of earth’s philosophy?
Do I not shake to hear aught question thee?
If I am erring save me, madden me,
Take from me powers and pleasures—let me die.
Ages, so I see thee: I am knit round
As with a charm, by sin and lust and pride,
Yet tho’ my wandering dreams have seen all shapes
Of strange delight, oft have I stood by thee—
Have I been keeping lonely watch with thee
In the damp night by weeping Olivet,
Or leaning on thy bosom, proudly less—
Or dying with thee on the lonely cross—
Or witnessing thy bursting from the tomb!
- Robert Browning (1812–1889)