I stood on the bridge at midnight,
As the clocks were striking the hour,
And the moon rose o’er the city,
Behind the dark church tower.
I saw her bright reflection in the waters under me. She was as when I first saw her, girlish and bright eyed. My own youthful passions were set alight by her beauty and though I knew she was dismissive of deeper thought, I imagined I might change that in time. When we married she was nineteen and I, just twenty one. Even at this tender age I most eagerly aspired to future eminence in literature, in fact my whole soul burned ardently after it. Mary came to understand this and even began to enjoy the status of being the wife of a very promising college man. Whilst we were not of one mind we shared a delight in married love and she was expecting a child within hardly any time at all. Unfortunately she suffered with terrible nausea and spent much time confined to bed. I had been offered the Professorship of Modern Languages at Harvard, dependent on my studying abroad so I was not with her when tragedy struck at midnight on St Lucy’s Day.
I was told that the suffering had not lasted long and that the child had been born in its caul and was just the length of the physician’s hand. I’m comforted to know that baptism was given and I pray that Mary had been aware of that. Both were lost to me forever and now lay in the graveyard. So I come here at midnight and stare into the waters below me.
And I think of how many thousands
Of care-encumbered men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
Have crossed the bridge since then.