Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Lyrics of Love and Laughter (1903)

Lyrics of Love and Laughter

Dedicated to Miss Catherine Impey

First published by Dodd, Mead and Company
University Press, John Wilson and Son, Cambridge USA

Copyright 1903

The Murdered Lover

Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother,
Say a mass for my soul's repose, I need it,
Lovingly lived we, the sons of one mother,
Mine was the sin, but I pray you not heed it.

Dark were her eyes as the sloe and they called me,
Called me with voice independent of breath.
God! how my heart beat; her beauty appalled me,
Dazed me, and drew to the sea-brink of death.

Lithe was her form like a willow. She beckoned,
What could I do save to follow and follow,
Nothing of right or result could be reckoned;
Life without her was unworthy and hollow.

Ay, but I wronged thee, my brother, my brother;
Ah, but I loved her, thy beautiful wife.
Shade of our father, and soul of our mother,
Have I not paid for my love with my life?

Dark was the night when, revengeful, I met you,
Deep in the heart of a desolate land.
Warm was the life-blood which angrily wet you
Sharp was the knife that I left from your hand.

Wept you, oh, wept you, alone by the river,
When my stark carcass you secretly sank.
Ha, now I see that you tremble and shiver;
'T was but my spirit that passed when you shrank!

Weep not, oh, weep not, 't is over, 't is over;
Stir the dark weeks with the turn of the tide;
Go, thou has sent me forth, ever a rover,
Rest and the sweet realm of heaven denied.

Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother,
Say a mass for my soul, I need it.
Sin of mine was it, and sin of no other,
Mine was it all, but I pray you not heed it.

This poem appears in the following book(s):

Lyrics of Love and Laughter

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