Carlos by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Last night I knelt low at my lady’s feet.
One soft, caressing hand played with my hair,
And one I kissed and fondled. Kneeling there,
I deemed my meed of happiness complete.
She was so fair, so full of witching wiles –
Of fascinating tricks of mouth and eye;
So womanly withal, but not too shy –
And all my heaven was compassed by her smiles.
Her soft touch on my cheek and forehead sent,
Like little arrows, thrills of tenderness
Through all my frame. I trembled with excess
Of love, and sighed the sigh of great content.
When any mortal dares to so rejoice,
I think a jealous Heaven, bending low,
Reaches a stern hand forth and deals a blow.
Sweet through the dusk I heard my lady’s voice.
‘My love! ’ she sighed, ‘my Carlos! ’ Even now
I feel the perfumed zephyr of her breath
Bearing to me those words of living death,
And starting out the cold drops on my brow.
For I am Paul – not Carlos! Who is he
That, in the supreme hour of love’s delight,
Veiled by the shadows of the falling night,
She should breathe low his name, forgetting me?
I will not ask her! ‘Twere a fruitless task,
For, woman-like, she would make me believe
Some well-told tale; and sigh, and seem to grieve,
And call me cruel. Nay, I will not ask.
But this man Carlos, whosoe’er he be,
Has turned my cup of nectar into gall,
Since I know he has claimed some or all
Of these delights my lady grants to me.
He must have knelt and kissed her, in some sad
And tender twilight, when the day grew dim.
How else could I remind her so of him?
Why, reveries like these have made men mad!
He must have felt her soft hand on his brow.
If Heaven were shocked at such presumptuous wrongs,
And plunged him in the grave, where he belongs,
Still she remembers, though she loves me now.
And if he lives, and meet me to his cost,
Why, what avails it? I must hear and see
That curst name ‘Carlos’ always haunting me –
So has another Paradise been lost.