I care not if from shoulder now to feet
They strip my poor rags of pretence away
Torn lace of pride that once seemed very meet,
Bedraggled crest that in the lists shone gay,
And, with strange darker scarlet soaking through,
The soiled wet scarlet of a tattered shoe.
One will say, "See a wound got in no fight,
The ash-white kiss of some old venomed knife,
And not across his breast, as it were right
Draining his honour pale, but not his life."
And one, "A little scar stands well apart,
Flame-crooked just above a cowards heart."
"See, on his wrists the fresh marks of the gyves
Slave was he to some Thing unholy, such
As would weave cobweb strands about our lives
And prison us, should we Its servant touch."
Presently they will go. I lie as still
As the small scent of grasses on the hill.
Their pebbles cannot sting; not when they say,
"There is no surgeon who would think to heal
A serf not worth the healing." For the sway
Of tender grass against my breast I feel . . .
Nor care I when one murmurs, very low,
"That hand had swung a right sword, long ago."
So they were gone. A little noiseless wind
Touched my scarred wrists. "See, knight, how you are free.
No dark enchantments can your poor hands bind
They were so strong . . ." She sought to comfort me,
And one white star over the black pines stole
I think her joy was to make sick men whole.