THE Lord shall slay or the Lord shall save !
He is righteous whether He save or slay—
Brother ! give thanks for the gifts He gave,
Though the gifts He gave He hath taken away.
Shall we strive for that which is nothing ? Nay.
Shall we hate each other for that which fled ?
She is but a marvel of modelled clay,
And the smooth, clear white, and the soft, pure red
That we coveted, shall endure no day.
Was it wise or well that I hated you
For the fruit that hung too high on the tree ?
For the blossom out of our reach that grew
Was it well or wise that you hated me ?—
My hate has flown and your hate shall flee.
Let us veil our faces like children chid—
Can that violet orb we swore by see
Through that violet-vein’d, transparent lid ?—
Now the Lord forbid that this strife should be.
Would you knit the forehead or clench the fist,
For the curls that never were well caress’d—
For the red that never was fairly kiss’d—
For the white that never was fondly press’d ?
Shall we nourish wrath while she lies at rest
Between us ? Surely our wrath shall cease.
We would fain know better—the Lord knows best—
Is there peace between us ? Yea, there is peace,
In the soul’s release she at least is blest.
Let us thank the Lord for His bounties all,
For the brave old days of pleasure and pain,
When the world for both of us seem’d too small—
Though the love was void and the hate was vain—
Though the word was bitter between us twain,
And the bitter word was kin to the blow,
For her gloss and ripple of rich gold rain,
For her velvet crimson and satin snow—
Though we never shall know the old days again.
The Lord !—His mercy is great, men say ;
His wrath, men say, is a burning brand—
Let us praise Him, whether He save or slay,
And above her body let hand join hand.
We shall meet, my friend, in the spirit land—
Will our strife renew ? Nay, I dare not trust,
For the grim, great gulf that cannot be spann’d
Will divide us from her. The Lord is just,
She shall not be thrust where our spirits stand.
Published in ‘Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes’ (1870).