The Soul's Quest and Other Poems

by Frederick George Scott


 

TOO LATE

THE DYING MAGDALEN


 

HOPE? What! hope !—you say there is hope for the long-lost one!
Hope! when the light is out; hope! when the oil is done;
Hope! No, no, good lady! no hope for me, at least;
No home for me but the clammy grave when life has ceased.

Hope! Well, there might have been hope had my mother lived; but, then,

5
God struck her dead, and I was left alone among men.
God knows how I loved her; and shall I never see her again?
Is there no glimpse of heaven for those who are doomed to pain?

Oh, cannot she come and kiss me? Oh, cannot she pray by my side,
As she did long ago on that terrible evening before she died?

10

If she prayed God would hear her, and perhaps—but no;
I’m too old a sinner for mercy—there is nothing for me but woe.

You say that I yet could be saved if I sorrowed for my sin;
That the Lord is at heaven’s gate to take poor sinners in!
God knows that I hate my sin, but I feel that it cannot be;

15
I’ve so often forsaken Him, that He must have forsaken me.

Nay, don’t offer a prayer for me, lady, it’s only mocking at God:
Who knows but my tired heart still may rest beneath the sod?
For I always loved the sunny fields and the sweet, sweet flowers,
And longed to be pure once again like them, in my better hours.

20

But after I first had fallen the devil opened my eyes,
And I saw that the world knew my shame, and I hadn’t the heart to rise;
So I gave up trying to be good, and sank down lower in sin,
Tho’ the thought of poor dead mother made me always hate it within.

Oh, many’s the night that I’ve wandered about thro’ rain and snow,

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Wandered about in the street, and didn’t know where had to go;
And I’ve often crept to the river and looked at it, still and black,
And thought how every one spurned me—but something held me back.

I remember how once, when I stopped, half-dead, one rainy day,
To rest on his steps for a moment, the servants drove me away;

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Drove me away like a dog from the door of the man for whom,
O God! I had given up all in this world and beyond the tomb.

But don’t weep at my story, good lady; I’m not worth it living or dead!
Ha, ha! I’m not frightened of Death, nor the devils that dance round my bed:
There cannot be any hell deeper nor fuller of devils and strife

35
Than the hell that burns in my heart, and the fire that eats out life.

1882.