Two poems by Katherine Mansfield

Loneliness

Now it is Loneliness who comes at night
Instead of Sleep, to sit beside my bed.
Like a tired child I lie and wait her tread,
I watch her softly blowing out the light.
Motionless sitting, neither left or right
She turns, and weary, weary droops her head.
She, too, is old; she, too, has fought the fight.
So, with the laurel she is garlanded.

Through the sad dark the slowly ebbing tide
Breaks on a barren shore, unsatisfied.
A strange wind flows… then silence. I am fain
To turn to Loneliness, to take her hand,
Cling to her, waiting, till the barren land
Fills with the dreadful monotone of rain.

Sleeping Together

Sleeping together… how tired you were…
How warm our room… how the firelight spread
On walls and ceiling and great white bed!
We spoke in whispers as children do,
And now it was I–and then it was you
Slept a moment, to wake–“My dear,
I’m not at all sleepy,” one of us said….

Was it a thousand years ago?
I woke in your arms–you were sound asleep–
And heard the pattering sound of sheep.
Softly I slipped to the floor and crept
To the curtained window, then, while you slept,
I watched the sheep pass by in the snow.

O flock of thoughts with their shepherd Fear
Shivering, desolate, out in the cold,
That entered into my heart to fold!

A thousand years… was it yesterday
When we two children of far away,
Clinging close in the darkness, lay
Sleeping together?… How tired you were….

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