And Erick roamed in distant lands,
But cannot fly his weary fate;
Before him in the lonely night,
Before him in the noonday bright,
His guilty wife for ever stands,
A thing of loathing and of hate.
Alone, as under blight and ban,
He roams, a saddened, weary man.
Yet yearnings came to him at last,
And, drawn as by a spirit hand,
He homeward turned, his wanderings past,
To his own distant Swedish land;
And rose up with a spirit grace,
As pleading to him for her life,
Before him, with her angel face,
His beautiful, his sinning wife.
The ship sailed fast through storm and wrack,
The ship sailed slow the Isles between,
And Erick, watching on the deck,
Saw rise before him, low and green,
The Swedish Sweedish shores in level lines,
The fringèd shores of lordly pines:
A spirit’s touch, a spirit’s power,
Seemed on him at that magic hour.
He stood within his castle halls,
The grass grew rank around the gate,
The weeds hung from the mouldering walls,
And all around was desolate.
The bridal room was closed from sight,
For none had dared to enter in,
Since by God’s awful, searching light
The sinner had confessed her sin.
Her golden ring of hellish ban
Still lay upon the marble floor,
Her broken ring—the fatal sign
Of love that could return no more.
And nought the purple curtains stirred
Save the drear night‐wind’s mournful gust,
And golden crown and silken veil
Lay mouldering in the silent dust.
A bitter cry, a mournful cry,
Was wrung by grief from Erick’s breast.
She sinned, he said, but suffered, too,
Could penitence the sin undo,
Her sinning soul had rest.
If God can pity, why should I
Relentless doom a soul to die
Unpardoned, and unblest?
Christ did not scorn the sinner’s touch:
Shall man avenge sin overmuch,
And crush the heart‐woe riven?
Fain would I say one word of grace
Ere yet I meet her face to face,
Before the throne in Heaven.
Then led as by a spirit’s might,
He wandered forth into the night,
And rested not till he stood
By the lone Chapel in the wood.
And she that night in bitter woe,
Low kneeling by the closèd gate,
Poured out the grief those only know
By God and man left desolate.
Nought but the sacred owl heard her moan
Of inarticulate agony,
As down upon the threshold stone
She sank, and prayed that she might die.
O piteous sound of vain despair,
That mournful wailing by the gate;
That wailing of a ruined soul,
Downfallen from its high estate!
She wrung her wasted hands the while,
And pressed her forehead to the bar,
As if within that holy aisle
God’s pardon yet might come to her.
The cruel moon lit up the sward,
And pierced the guilty soul within,
That blighted form, all seared and marred
With deadly consciousness of sin;
The form that threw no shadow more
Besides God’s holy temple door;
And the awful moon, sharp, cold, and clear,
Struck through her like the Avenger’s spear.
O saddest sight beneath its light,
That humbled, suffering creature!
For all too heavy lay the doom.
Upon her human nature.
The curse of sin that none forego,
The agony, the pain, the strife,
The sullied soul, the wasted life,
Sin’s endless heritage of woe.
She prayed as only those can pray
Who pray to be forgiven;
She wept as only those can weep
Who fear to forfeit Heaven.
With outstretched hands and streaming eyes
She pleads to Heaven, imploring,
As if her cries could pierce the skies,
Where angels stand adoring.
O writhing hands! O wasted hands!
Flung out with frenzied gesture,
As if they fain would touch the hem
Of Christ’s fair flowing vesture.
Bitter the dole of that sinning soul,
Outcast of Earth and Heaven;
And her cry went up like a wail from Hell,
Across the night‐wind driven.