The Poetry Corner

The Murdered Lover

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother, Say a mass for my soul's repose, I need it, Lovingly lived we, the sons of one mother, Mine was the sin, but I pray you not heed it. Dark were her eyes as the sloe and they called me, Called me with voice independent of breath. God! how my heart beat; her beauty appalled me, Dazed me, and drew to the sea-brink of death. Lithe was her form like a willow. She beckoned, What could I do save to follow and follow, Nothing of right or result could be reckoned; Life without her was unworthy and hollow. Ay, but I wronged thee, my brother, my brother; Ah, but I loved her, thy beautiful wife. Shade of our father, and soul of our mother, Have I not paid for my love with my life? Dark was the night when, revengeful, I met you, Deep in the heart of a desolate land. Warm was the life-blood which angrily wet you Sharp was the knife that I felt from your hand. Wept you, oh, wept you, alone by the river, When my stark carcass you secretly sank. Ha, now I see that you tremble and shiver; 'T was but my spirit that passed when you shrank! Weep not, oh, weep not, 't is over, 't is over; Stir the dark weeds with the turn of the tide; Go, thou hast sent me forth, ever a rover, Rest and the sweet realm of heaven denied. Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother, Say a mass for my soul, I need it. Sin of mine was it, and sin of no other, Mine was it all, but I pray you not heed it.