Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Not Profit, No: Nor Pleasure

To R. R.
On Rereading the "De Profundis" of Oscar Wilde
by Florence Earle Coates


He stood alone, despairing and forsaken:
⁠Alone he stood, in desolation bare;
From him avenging powers e'en hope had taken:
⁠He looked,—and thou wast there!

Why hadst thou come? Not profit, no: nor pleasure,
⁠Nor any faint desire of selfish gain,
Had moved thee, giving of thy heart's pure treasure,
To share a culprit's pain.

In that drear place, as thou hadst lonely waited
⁠To greet with noble friendship one who came
Handcuffed from prison, pointed at, and hated,
⁠Bowed low in mortal shame,

No thought hadst thou of any special merit,
⁠So simple, natural, seemed that action fine
Which kept alive, in a despairing spirit,
⁠The spark of the divine,

And taught a dying soul that love is deathless,
⁠Even as when its holiest accents fell
Upon a woman's heart who listened, breathless,
⁠By a Samarian well.

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