The Wounded Stag

Passing amid the deepest shade
Of the wood’s sombre heart,
Last night I saw a wounded deer
Laid lonely and apart.

Such light as pierced the crowded boughs
(Light scattered, scant and dim,)
Passed through the fern that formed his couch
And centred full on him.

Pain trembled in his weary limbs,
Pain filled his patient eye;
Pain-crushed amid the shadowy fern
His branchy crown did lie.

Where were his comrades? where his mate?
All from his death-bed gone!
And he, thus struck and desolate,
Suffered and bled alone.

Did he feel what a man might feel
Friend-left, and sore distrest?
Did Pain’s keen dart, and Grief’s sharp sting
Strive in his mangled breast?

Did longing for affection lost
Barb every deadly dart;
Love unrepaid, and Faith betrayed, —
Did these torment his heart?

No! leave to man his proper doom!
These are the pangs that rise
Around the bed of state and gloom,
Where Adam’s offspring dies!

Charlotte Brontë  before 1833 (exact date unknown)

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