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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Blue-Beard’s Closet

By Rose Terry Cooke (1827–1892)

[Born in West Hartford, Conn., 1827. Died in Pittsfield, Mass., 1892. From Poems. Collective Edition. 1888.]

FASTEN the chamber!

Hide the red key;

Cover the portal,

That eyes may not see.

Get thee to market,

To wedding and prayer;

Labor or revel,

The charmer is there!

In comes a stranger—

“Thy pictures how fine,

Titian or Guido,

Whose is the sign?”

Looks he behind them?

Ah! have a care!

“Here is a finer.”

The charmer is there!

Fair spreads the banquet,

Rich the array;

See the bright torches

Mimicking day;

When harp and viol

Thrill the soft air,

Comes a light whisper:

The charmer is there!

Marble and painting,

Jasper and gold,

Purple from Tyrus,

Fold upon fold,

Blossoms and jewels,

Thy palace prepare:

Pale grows the monarch;

The charmer is there!

Once it was open

As shore to the sea;

White were the turrets,

Goodly to see;

All through the casements

Flowed the sweet air;

Now it is darkness;

The charmer is there!

Silence and horror

Brood on the walls;

Through every crevice

A little voice calls:

“Quicken, mad footsteps,

On pavement and stair;

Look not behind thee,

The chamber is there!”

Out of the gateway,

Through the wide world,

Into the tempest

Beaten and hurled,

Vain is thy wandering,

Sure thy despair,

Flying or staying,

The chamber is there!