THE PLAYER: Why should I thirst for it,
Alone with the one man of all living men
I have least cause to honor.... She is too false--
At last, to keep a spaniel's loyalty.
I do believe it. And by my own soul,
She shall not have me, what remains of me
That may be beaten back into the ranks.
I will not look upon her.... Bitter sweet.
This fever that torments me day by day--
Call it not love--this servitude, this spell
That haunts me like a sick man's fantasy,
With pleading of her eyes, her voice, her eyes--
It shall not have me. I am too much stained:
But, God or no God, yet I do not live
And have to bear my own soul company,
To have it stoop so low. She looks on Herbert.
Oh, I have seen! But he, -- he must withstand her!
For my sake, yes, for my sake!--I'll not doubt
His honor; nor the love he hath to me;--
As Jonathan to David. -- I'll not doubt.
He knows what I have suffered, -- suffer still --
Although I love her not. Her ways, her ways.
It is her ways that eat into the heart
With beauty more than Beauty; and her voice,
That silvers o'er the meaning of her speech
Like moonshine on black waters. Ah, uncoil!...
He's the sure morning after this dark dream;
Wide daylight and west wind of a lad's love;
With all his golden pride, for my dull hours,
Still climbing sunward. Sink all loves in him!
And cleanse me of this cursèd, fell distrust
That marks the pestilence. 'Fair, kind, and true.'
Lad, lad. How could I turn from friendliness
To worship such false gods?...
'Fair, kind, and true.' And yet, if She were true,--
To me, though false to all things else;--one truth,
So one truth lived--. One truth! O beggared soul,
--Foul Lazarus, so starved it can make shift
To feed on crumbs of honor!--Am I this?