THE TYRANT AND THE CAPTIVE POEM by Adelaide Anne Procter
Poetry from Legends and Lyrics Second Series.
ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER VERSE: THE TYRANT AND THE CAPTIVE POEM
It was midnight when I listened,
And I heard two Voices speak;
One was harsh, and stern, and cruel,
And the other soft and weak:
Yet I saw no Vision enter,
And I heard no steps depart,
Of this Tyrant and his Captive, . . .
Fate it might be and a Heart.
Thus the stern Voice spake in triumph:-
“I have shut your life away
From the radiant world of nature,
And the perfumed light of day.
You, who loved to steep your spirit
In the charm of Earth’s delight,
See no glory of the daytime,
And no sweetness of the night.”
But the soft Voice answered calmly:
“Nay, for when the March winds bring
Just a whisper to my window,
I can dream the rest of Spring;
And to-day I saw a Swallow
Flitting past my prison bars,
And my cell has just one corner
Whence at night I see the stars.”
But its bitter taunt repeating,
Cried the harsh Voice:—”Where are they—
All the friends of former hours,
Who forget your name to-day?
All the links of love are shattered,
Which you thought so strong before;
And your very heart is lonely,
And alone since loved no more.”
But the low Voice spoke still lower:—
“Nay, I know the golden chain
Of my love is purer, stronger,
For the cruel fire of pain:
They remember me no longer,
But I, grieving here alone,
Bind their souls to me for ever
By the love within their own.”
But the Voice cried:- “Once remember
You devoted soul and mind
To the welfare of your brethren,
And the service of your kind.
Now, what sorrow can you comfort?
You, who lie in helpless pain,
With an impotent compassion
Fretting out your life in vain.”
“Nay;” and then the gentle answer
Rose more loud, and full, and clear:
“For the sake of all my brethren
I thank God that I am here!
Poor had been my Life’s best efforts,
Now I waste no thought or breath—
For the prayer of those who suffer
Has the strength of Love and Death.”