The Story of Paul Vaugel

This is the story of Paul Vaugel
Of the Pol-Lourdesse, and how he fell
From Heaven to that he counted Hell.

I set for myself one fixed intent—
(Hope is strong as Love in the Heart)
As a light to guide me where I went 
(Reckon ye neither burns or smart)

And I laboured a year with heart and strove
That out of my Love there should come Love.—

And laboured a year with heart and brain,
And a Hope as deep as Love in my heart, 
But my winter harvesting was pain,
Yet I drew not back for burn or smart—

For the purpose stayed and changed no whit 
And I rose again to follow it.

And I laboured that Love should come in the end,
With Hope as deep as Love in the heart, 
Alone, in the dark, I had no friend
To comfort a little my bitter smart

And I laboured that Love should come in the end. 
And that she I had saved should at length unbend.

And there came no rest by night or day,
And the woman that ruled me passed away

And I, that had worked to gain her bread, 
With a hope as deep as Love in the heart 
Lifted her up where she lay dead,
And I alone bore pain and smart

For this woman was like to die of pain,
And I—I had given her strength again.

And I swore an oath that by right of sin, 
And hope of better in either heart,
The woman should be as my nearest kin,
And I reckoned neither of burn or smart. 
And a space I had got her bread to eat 
And clothed her body and shod her feet, 
And such life as we led was sweet indeed 
With Hope as deep as Love in the heart, 
And all her Love for all my meed
And little care for a coming smart,

And our straitened chamber seemed to be
A heaven set apart for me,
Where she lay still, and white and faint,
But with hope as deep as Love in the heart, 
She that to me was very saint,
And I reckoned little of burn or smart.

And the woe of the streets and all their sin,
Beat at the door but came not in.

And then was rest when the day was over,
And hope and Love were high in the heart,
For her white arms closed round me, her lover, 
And her kiss was worth all pain and smart

And the heat and toil of a little day,
At the sound of her voice would pass away.

And I thought that this would alway be
And that hope and Love should rule i' the heart,
But God's hand took her love from me
And I alone bore the pain and the smart

For the plague that summer brings to our town
Seized her and held, and threw her down.

And when she died I had lived so, 
With the love of one to fill my heart,
There was no friend that could hear my woe,
And comfort a little my bitter smart.

So I raised her up, and combed her hair,
And lifted her down our narrow stair.
And the poor white feet swayed aimlessly,
As I laid the sweet head  close to me.
And all the wealth of her hair unbound
Fell o'er my arm to the very ground,
And  the pale lips moved as I lifted her,
So that I thought some life did stir;
An  hour I chafed her hands and head
(Albeit I  knew that she was dead).
And I stood at the foot of our narrow stair 
Till the cattle came came to the market-square;
So I knew that the noon was passed and over,
And I slid the bolt and bore out my lover. 
          *          *          *          *  

Where the Pol-Lourdesse runs out by the sea,
Is the burial place for such as we,
Where the green sea poppy flourisheth,
And the dog-fish nuzzles the bones of death.
Where the sand like a sea-mist shifts and moves
Over the bones of our buried Loves, 
And the starveling ponies are hardly fed
From the wreaths we poor folk make for our Dead.
          *          *          *          *  

The sun was setting angrily
Where the Pol-Lourdesse runs out by the sea, 
And the glare of the sunset fell like blood
On the poor pinched face beneath its hood,
As I trod on the shingly sea-ward reach
From the street of the fleshers—out to the beach
And her head on my shoulder rose and fell,
And I thought that her lips framed 'Paul Vaugel'
So I knelt on the road and laid her down, 
By the conduit wall of the newer town.
And I chafed her head and called her name
So loud, that the market people came,
And they stood and watched till the sun went down,
And I bore the dead thing out of the town
          *          *          *          *  

And I came to the dunes as the sun was hid 
By a thick grey bank of clouds that slid
Like blinded beasts round the silent sky,
As our cattle reel before they die
          *          *          *          *  

And I found a hillock of bent bound sand, 
And I dug her resting place with my hand.  
And I lifted her up and lowered her,
And waited to see if she would stir.
(Tho' I knew she was dead)—and then I strove
To put the dry sand over my Love.
And the silver sand in a shower fell
On the feet of the Love of Paul Vaugel 
And I covered the waist but could not bear 
To lay the filth on her face and hair—
So I sat and waited till night should fall
And I could not see the face at all.
And I plucked sea poppy and wind dried heather,
And wove them into a wreath together
And I set the wreath on her brows as night
Came, and shut them out of my sight— 
Then I piled the sand over face and hair 
Till I left no whit of the body bare
For I felt in the dark lest foot or hand
Should be uncovered by the sand.
And I stacked up gorze till my fingers bled,
Lest the sheep should pasture over head— 
And I weighted the bushes with boulder clay, 
And I sat on the Dunes and wept till day.
And a great mist rose from the Dune St Lo,
And an inland wind on the full tide's flow
And all night long the sea-mist passed 
In a thousand shapes before the blast 
And all our past Life shewed to me 
Till morning broke on the sullen sea.
          *          *          *          *  

And I went to my home when the day was white,
And Hope and Love lay dead in the heart,
And I laid her trinkets out of sight,
For Love remembered is bitter smart—
And the cattle came below to the square, 
And the street was full of our winter fair
And I went in the street to my booth and stood
(With never a sign of a troubled heart)
As men stand and chaffer in idle mood,
For who could tell of my bitter smart?
But all day long a murmur fell,
Come thou  swiftly O Paul Vaugel'
And the street of the fleshers seemed to ring
With this one cry for my maddening
And night and day came the bitter cry
'Paul Vaugel, what hope have I?'	 
And the day and the dawn were full of the same, 
And the sunset stamped the words in flame
And the Church bells rang with a weary knell, 
'Come thou swiftly O Paul Vaugel!'
And I had no peace by day at all,
And I went to the Dunes at evenfall—
And only there had I any rest
From the thoughts that raged like flame in my breast.
And only there was my spirit still
But then  longing came—which was greater ill
And either the cry or the dumb desire 
Came to make my life a fire.
And though it is years since my woe was done, 
I have found no comfort under the sun—

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