ART OF EUROPE

Robert Graves - Dialogue on the Headland

SHE: You'll not forget these rocks and what I told you?
HE:  How could I? Never: whatever happens.
SHE: What do you think might happen?
     Might you fall out of love? - did you mean that?
HE:  Never, never! 'Whatever' was a sop
     For jealous listeners in the shadows.
SHE: You haven't answered me. I asked:
     'What do you think might happen?'
HE:  Whatever happens:  though the skies should fall
     Raining their larks and vultures in our laps -
SHE: 'Though the sea turn to slime' -say that - 
     'Though water-snakes be hatched with six heads.'
HE:  Though the seas turn to slime, or tower
     In an arching wave above us, three miles high -
SHE: 'Though she should break with you' - dare you say that? -
     'Though she deny her words on oath.'
HE:  I had that in my mind to say, or nearly;
     It hurt so much I choked it back.
SHE: How many other days can't you forget?
     How many other loves and landscapes?
HE:  You are jealous?
SHE:                 Damnably.
HE:                           The past is past.
SHE: And this?
HE:           Whatever happens, this goes on.
SHE: Without a future? Sweetheart, tell me now:
     What do you want of me? I must know that.
HE:  Nothing that isn't freely mine already.
SHE: Say what is freely yours and you shall have it.
HE:  Nothing that, loving you, I should dare take.
SHE: O, for an answer with no 'nothing' in it!
HE:  Then give me everything that's left.
SHE: Left after what?
HE:                  After whatever happens:
     Skies have already fallen, seas are slime,
     Watersnakes poke and peer six-headedly -
SHE: And I lie snugly in the Devil's arms.
HE:  I said: 'Whatever happens.' Are you crying?
SHE: You'll not forget me - ever, ever, ever?