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Lilith George MacDonald

The Persian Cat

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    "But if I found a man that could believe
    In what he saw not, felt not, and yet knew,
    From him I should take substance, and receive
    Firmness and form relate to touch and view;
    Then should I clothe me in the likeness true
    Of that idea where his soul did cleave!"

He turned a leaf and read again:--

    "In me was every woman. I had power
    Over the soul of every living man,
    Such as no woman ever had in dower--
    Could what no woman ever could, or can;
    All women, I, the woman, still outran,
    Outsoared, outsank, outreigned, in hall or bower.

    "For I, though me he neither saw nor heard,
    Nor with his hand could touch finger of mine,
    Although not once my breath had ever stirred
    A hair of him, could trammel brain and spine
    With rooted bonds which Death could not untwine--
    Or life, though hope were evermore deferred."

Again he paused, again turned a leaf, and again began:--

    "For by his side I lay, a bodiless thing;
    I breathed not, saw not, felt not, only thought,
    And made him love me--with a hungering
    After he knew not what--if it was aught
    Or but a nameless something that was wrought
    By him out of himself; for I did sing

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    "A song that had no sound into his soul;
    I lay a heartless thing against his heart,
    Giving him nothing where he gave his whole
    Being to clothe me human, every part:
    That I at last into his sense might dart,
    Thus first into his living mind I stole.

    "Ah, who was ever conquering Love but I!
    Who else did ever throne in heart of man!
    To visible being, with a gladsome cry
    Waking, life's tremor through me throbbing ran!"

A strange, repulsive feline wail arose somewhere in the room. I started up on my elbow and stared about me, but could see nothing.

Mr. Raven turned several leaves, and went on:--

    "Sudden I woke, nor knew the ghastly fear
    That held me--not like serpent coiled about,
    But like a vapour moist, corrupt, and drear,
    Filling heart, soul, and breast and brain throughout;
    My being lay motionless in sickening doubt,
    Nor dared to ask how came the horror here.

    "My past entire I knew, but not my now;
    I understood nor what I was, nor where;
    I knew what I had been: still on my brow
    I felt the touch of what no more was there!
    I was a fainting, dead, yet live Despair;
    A life that flouted life with mop and mow!

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