Master and Guest

by Mary Coleridge

There came a man across the moor,
Fell and foul of face was he.
He left the path by the cross-roads three,
And stood in the shadow of the door.

I asked him in to bed and board.
I never hated any man so.
He said he could not say me No.
He sat in the seat of my own dear lord.

“Now sit you by my side!” he said,
“Else may I neither eat nor drink.
You would not have me starve, I think.”
He ate the offerings of the dead.

“I’ll light you to your bed,” quoth I.
“My bed is yours – but light the way!”
I might not turn aside nor stay;
I showed him where we twain did lie.

The cock was trumpeting the morn.
He said: “Sweet love, a long farewell!
You have kissed a citizen of Hell,
And a soul was doomed when you were born.

“Mourn, mourn no longer for your dear!
Him may you never meet above.
The gifts that Love hath given to Love,
Love gives away again to Fear.”