Dear God, That Girl Was Half My Life

I stole this poem from Battlements of Rubies, because it made me cry like a baby.

On the Death of his Wife – Muireadhach Albanach 


I parted from my life last night,

A woman’s body sunk in clay:

The tender bosom that I loved 

Wrapped in a sheet they took away.


The heavy blossom that had lit

The ancient boughs is tossed and blown; 

Hers was the burden of delight

That long had weighed the old tree down.


And I am left alone tonight

And desolate is the world I see,

For lovely was that woman’s weight 

That even last night had lain on me.


Weeping I look upon the place 

Where she used to rest her head, 

For yesterday her body’s length 

Reposed upon you too, my bed.


Yesterday that smiling face

Upon one side of you was laid 

That could match the hazel bloom 

In its dark delicate sweet shade.


Maelva of the shadowy brows 

Was the mead-cask at my side; 

Fairest of all flowers that grow 

Was the beauty that has died.


My body’s self deserts me now, 

The half of me that was her own, 

Since all I knew of brightness died 

Half of me lingers, half is gone.


The face that was like hawthorn bloom 

Was my right foot and my right side; 

And my right hand and right eye

Were no more mine than hers who died.


Poor is the share of me that’s left 

Since half of me died with my wife; 

I shudder at the words I speak; 

Dear God, that girl was half my life.


And our first look was her first love; 

No man had fondled ere I came 

The little breasts so small and firm 

And the long body like a flame.


For twenty years we shared a home, 

Our converse milder with each year; 

Eleven children in its time

Did that tall stately body bear.


It was the King of hosts and roads

Who snatched her from me in her prime: 

Little she wished to leave alone

The man she loved before her time.


Now King of churches and of bells, 

Though never raised to pledge a lie 

That woman’s hand – can it be true? – 

No more beneath my head will lie.


Yellow Roses in a Vase - Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte

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