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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

Come Back

By Henry William Herbert (1807–1858)

[Born in London, England, 1807. Died in New York, N. Y., 1858. Poems of Frank Forester. Collected and Edited by Morgan Herbert. A Memorial Volume. 1887.]

COME back and bring my life again

That went with thee beyond my will!

Restore me that which makes me man

Or leaves me wretched, dead and chill!

Thy presence was of life a part;

Thine absence leaves the blank of death.

They wait thy presence—eye and heart,

With straining gaze and bated breath.

The light is darkness, if thine eyes

Make not the medium of its ray;

I see no star in evening skies,

Save thou look up and point the way.

Nor bursting buds in May’s young bloom,

Nor sunshine rippling o’er the sea,

Bears up to heaven my heart’s perfume

Save thou my monitor can be.

There are two paths for human feet—

One bordered by a duty plain,

And one by phantoms cursed, yet sweet,

Bewildering heart and maddening brain;

The one will right and reason urge,

But thou must walk beside me there,

Or else I tread the dizzy verge,

And thou some guilt of loss must bear.

Come back, there is no cause on earth—

No word of shame—no deed of wrong—

Can bury all of truth and worth,

And sunder bonds once firm and strong.

There is no duty, heaven-imposed,

That, velvet-gloved—an iron band

Upon my heart-strings crushed and closed—

Thy hate should all my love withstand.

Days seem like ages—and, ere long,

On senseless ears the cry may fall;

Or, stilled by bitter shame and wrong,

The pleading voice may cease to call.

Come back! before the eyes grow dim

That keep but sight to see thee come,

Ere fail and falter hand and limb,

Whose strength but waits to fold thee home.