Sometimes I feel my heart to ascertain if it is there
And has not vaporized with inattention or despair
And sometimes I can feel it, and I touch it to contain
The pulsing and convulsing and the frothing, aching pain
And often, like the minister, I find my fingers pressed
To cover the iniquity burned scarlet on my breast.
Undone, undone, undone! The minister has left his knees,
The closet of his chamber dark and heavy with his pleas
And bloody with the guilt transferred from depths of burdened soul
Upon a nightly scourge, a penance never paid in full
O minister! Give me thy scourge--lest I should longer brood
On guilt without a consequence, I heal myself with blood!
So tender is the flesh that bears the beating in the dark
So frightened is the mind that it forbears to disembark
From thinking of the horror that it fears may come at last
The moment that it dares to hope the horror may have passed
Insidious inner maelstrom drinks my soul with turgid greed--
Too recent last my scourging, touch my heart and it will bleed.
Always and that is life which breaks me open to their eyes
But death in me will cancel light and close me up with lies
When daily suffocation drives my bitterness too deep
And nightly meditation has been sacrificed to sleep
Then to my saddened soul what haunting vision should appear
But this: that fear is all I love, and love is all I fear.