Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
THE DESERTED WIFE.
HE comes not; I have watched the moon go down,
But yet he comes not. Once it was not so.
He thinks not how these bitter tears do flow,
The while he holds his riot in that town.
Yet he will come and chide, and I shall weep;
And he will wake my infant from its sleep,Page 163
To blend its feeble wailing with my tears
Oh! how I love a mother's watch to keep,
Over those sleeping eyes, that smile, which cheers
My heart, though sunk in sorrow, fix'd and deep.
I had a husband once, who loved me; now
He ever wears a frown upon his brow,
And feeds his passion on a wanton's lip,
As bees, from laurel flowers, a poison sip;
But yet I cannot hate. Oh! there were hours,
When I could hang for ever on his eye,
And Time, who stole with silent swiftness by,
Strew'd, as he hurried on, his path with flowers.
I loved him then; he loved me too. My heart
Still finds its fondness kindle if he smile;
The memory of our loves will ne'er depart;
And though he often sting me with a dart,
Venom'd and barb'd, and waste upon the vile
Caresses which his babe and mine should share—
Though he should spurn me, I will camly bear
His madness; and should sickness come, and lay
Its paralyzing hand upon him, then
I would, with kindness, all my wrongs repay,
Until the penitent should weep, and say
How injured and how faithful I had been.