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London Bridge
by [?]

“Do I hear them? Yes, I hear the children singing — and what of it?
Have you come with eyes afire to find me now and ask me that?
If I were not their father and if you were not their mother,
We might believe they made a noise. . . . What are you — driving at!”

“Well, be glad that you can hear them, and be glad they are so near us, —
For I have heard the stars of heaven, and they were nearer still.
All within an hour it is that I have heard them calling,
And though I pray for them to cease, I know they never will;
For their music on my heart, though you may freeze it, will fall always,
Like summer snow that never melts upon a mountain-top.
Do you hear them? Do you hear them overhead — the children — singing?
Do you hear the children singing? . . . God, will you make them stop!”

“And what now in his holy name have you to do with mountains?
We’re back to town again, my dear, and we’ve a dance tonight.
Frozen hearts and falling music? Snow and stars, and — what the devil!
Say it over to me slowly, and be sure you have it right.”

“God knows if I be right or wrong in saying what I tell you,
Or if I know the meaning any more of what I say.
All I know is, it will kill me if I try to keep it hidden —
Well, I met him. . . . Yes, I met him, and I talked with him — today.”

“You met him? Did you meet the ghost of someone you had poisoned,
Long ago, before I knew you for the woman that you are?
Take a chair; and don’t begin your stories always in the middle.
Was he man, or was he demon? Anyhow, you’ve gone too far
To go back, and I’m your servant. I’m the lord, but you’re the master.
Now go on with what you know, for I’m excited.”

“Do you mean —
Do you mean to make me try to think that you know less than I do?”

“I know that you foreshadow the beginning of a scene.
Pray be careful, and as accurate as if the doors of heaven
Were to swing or to stay bolted from now on for evermore.”

“Do you conceive, with all your smooth contempt of every feeling,
Of hiding what you know and what you must have known before?
Is it worth a woman’s torture to stand here and have you smiling,
With only your poor fetish of possession on your side?
No thing but one is wholly sure, and that’s not one to scare me;
When I meet it I may say to God at last that I have tried.
And yet, for all I know, or all I dare believe, my trials
Henceforward will be more for you to bear than are your own;
And you must give me keys of yours to rooms I have not entered.
Do you see me on your threshold all my life, and there alone?
Will you tell me where you see me in your fancy — when it leads you
Far enough beyond the moment for a glance at the abyss?”

“Will you tell me what intrinsic and amazing sort of nonsense
You are crowding on the patience of the man who gives you — this?
Look around you and be sorry you’re not living in an attic,
With a civet and a fish-net, and with you to pay the rent.
I say words that you can spell without the use of all your letters;
And I grant, if you insist, that I’ve a guess at what you meant.”