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Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

191. Harlan Sewall

YOU never understood, O unknown one,

Why it was I repaid

Your devoted friendship and delicate ministrations

First with diminished thanks,

Afterward by gradually withdrawing my presence from you,

So that I might not be compelled to thank you,

And then with silence which followed upon

Our final Separation.

You had cured my diseased soul. But to cure it

You saw my disease, you knew my secret,

And that is why I fled from you.

For though when our bodies rise from pain

We kiss forever the watchful hands

That gave us wormwood, while we shudder

For thinking of the wormwood,

A soul that’s cured is a different matter,

For there we’d blot from memory

The soft-toned words, the searching eyes,

And stand forever oblivious,

Not so much of the sorrow itself

As of the hand that healed it.