True Love of Thomas Moore

True Love

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Galen Drake

My favorite love story is also a true one.  Soon after he was married, Thomas Moore, the famous 19th century Irish poet, was called away on a business trip.  Upon his return he was met at the door, not by his beautiful bride, but by the family doctor.

"Your wife is upstairs," said the doctor. "But she asked that you not come up."  And then Moore learned the terrible truth; his wife had contracted small pox.  The disease had left her once flawless skin pocked and scarred.  She had taken one look at her reflection in the mirror  and commanded that the shutters be drawn and that her husband never see her again.  Moore would not listen.  He ran upstairs and threw open the door of his wife's room.  It was black as  night inside.  Not a sound came from the darkness.  Groping along the wall, Moore felt for the gas jets.

A startled cry came from a black corner of the room.  "No!  Don't light the lamps!"

Moore hesitated, swayed by the pleading in the voice.

"Go!" she begged.  "Please go!  This is the greatest gift I can give you now."

Moore did go.  He went down to his study, where he sat up most of the night, prayerfully writing.  Not a poem this time, but a song.  He had never written a song before, but now he found it more natural to his mood than simple poetry.  He not only wrote the words, but he  wrote the music too.  And the next morning, as soon as the sun was up he returned to his wife's room.

He felt his way to a chair and sat down. "Are you awake?" he asked.

"I am," came a voice from the far side of the room.  "But you must not ask to see me.  You must not press me, Thomas."

"I will sing to you, then," he answered.  And so for the first time, Thomas Moore sang to his wife the song that still lives today:

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms, Which I gaze on so fondly today, Were to change by tomorrow and flee in my arms,  Like fairy gifts fading away, Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art -- Let thy loveliness fade as it will,

Moore heard a movement from the dark corner where his wife lay in her loneliness, waiting. He continued.

Let thy loveliness fade as it will, And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart Would entwine itself verdantly still --

The song ended.  As his voice trailed off on the last note, Moore heard his bride rise.  She crossed the room to the window, reached up and slowly drew open the shutters.