Long, long enough have I endured the throes
And torments of the lust that courses through me
Whene’er I think on her – Victor, be strong;
She is not real, nor ever can be – faugh!
I see her now! – O, how I hunger for her!
My mouth fills up with spittle – No! away!
Get out of me, you fiend! – But there she is;
And if I might but touch her once – Be gone!
I am resolved to rid myself of you.
You are an idle fancy, nothing more;
Some vain imagination, fashioned from
The milkweed-tufts of feelings and desires,
Which grow and ripen in their bony pod
Till a breath blows them, and they issue out
In rustling whispers. Yes! A good conceit;
Well done! Yes, that should do it. But how then
Did she so long endure? Did stronger stuff
Aid in her manufacture? – What’s this now?
“An embryo I of windy seed conceived,
Such as you say, and knit up in your belly;
But I was nursed then by the dark, moist Earth,
That is to say, the surfeits of the flesh,
Suckling on blood and bile till I waxed strong
And reached the fullness of my generation.”
Was that her speaking through me? Is she real
After all, or have I gone mad? She speaks
Again! – “I am, and just as much as you.”
Are we both real or mad? – But if she’s mad,
That means she’s real; she’s real, then, either way.
But am I mad? Or was I mad till now,
And sore mistaken in my thoughts, but now
Am mad no longer? – What nonsense is this! –
Away, foul image! Leave my soul in peace! –
This is a trick, I know. What should I think?
What should I think? Oh, oh! what should I think? –
No more, no more! – The deed might banish her;
I’ll do it just this once; but after this
Never again, no, never!
Long, long enough have I endured the throes…
O, the steeple fell down on the daisies so dead,
And they wrung out a chime from the bell;
But a moment – ding, dong! – and its echo is fled,
Never more on this churchyard to dwell.
And a silence is left where a silence was not –
And it frenzied the nightingale so;
And he swore in his song – and he never forgot –
That he’d seal up the sum of the woe.
Half a century he wilts as he warbles each verse,
Till the spirit flows out of the clay,
And the chorus at last – he’ll no longer rehearse! –
Comes the hacking wet choke of decay.
See how he strains to force out one last moan! –
He falls from off his tombstone, and is gone.
John Lambert is a self-proclaimed poet and aspiring classicist who hails from suburban Massachusetts. He has no academic credentials and has never before been published.