Muriel Stuart

The Fools

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BELOW, the street was hoarse with cries,
With groan of carts and scuffling feet,
With laughter worse than blasphemies,
Was choked with dust and blind with heat,
This room was still--too still for peace.

It heard the livid words we said
Of hate and passion, watched us where
I sat, as one beside the dead--
You lay with all your glorious hair
Flung on the crazy bed.

The moment's passion ended brought--
Ah, child, to you what did it bring?
What could it, but one hideous thought
To us so tired of everything,
And hating what we sought?

--So tired of all this grey room meant,
Of life together, shackled cold,
Or bound in flame so different
From the swift, white desire of old,
The old, divine consent.

Poor room, so meanly intimate!
Our dirty clothes sprawled on a chair,
Combs, candle-ends, and grimy plate
Littered the table, paper and hair
Forlornely choked the grate.

And I so passionate, you such
A wild sweet plunderer of bliss
Soon fallen in our own folly's clutch,
Finding how wrong, how mad it is
To know, to love, too much.

You rose, but with no woman's care
For all the beauty that is hers,
Pent up your out-burst storm of hair
And fetched your cloak and found your purse,
And matched my sullen stare.

Wild words so often said before
Escape us in the old fierce way.
You cried, "I shall return no more!"
I said, "I shall no longer stay!"
You closed the grumbling door.

The mirror grinned, "They are still one."
The cupboard gasped, "Their clothes are here."
The ghastly bed said with a leer,
"I shall not sleep alone!"

They knew what took us years to learn,
That Habit terrible and slow
Doth Love and Hate alike inurn.
They knew too well I should not go,
They knew you would return.

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Muriel Stuart