Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The White Moth
 
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863–1944)
 
 
IF a leaf rustled, she would start:
  And yet she died, a year ago.
How had so frail a thing the heart
  To journey where she trembled so?
And do they turn and turn in fright,        5
  Those little feet, in so much night?
 
The light above the poet’s head
  Streamed on the page and on the cloth,
And twice and thrice there buffeted
  On the black pane a white-winged moth:        10
’T was Annie’s soul that beat outside
  And “Open, open, open!” cried:
 
“I could not find the way to God;
  There were too many flaming suns
For signposts, and the fearful road        15
  Led over wastes where millions
Of tangled comets hissed and burned—
  I was bewildered and I turned.
 
“O, it was easy then! I knew
  Your window and no star beside.        20
Look up, and take me back to you!”
  —He rose and thrust the window wide.
’T was but because his brain was hot
  With rhyming; for he heard her not.
 
But poets polishing a phrase        25
  Show anger over trivial things;
And as she blundered in the blaze
  Towards him, on ecstatic wings,
He raised a hand and smote her dead;
  Then wrote “That I had died instead!”        30
 

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