One Night in Copenhagen


by Mark Anthony Signorelli (April 2010)

Kierkegaard and Regina Meet a Final Time

“God keep you,” she said, and nervously paused before him –

She had been his betrothed and beloved, let her heart adore him
Without restraint, but that was before the day
He abandoned her to pursue in his singular way
The truth of things, and bring profit to all mankind
By the sum of his writings – at least, so it seemed to his mind.
Now she stood before this man for a final time
On the eve of her parting into the foreign clime
Of the Caribbean, and he, he eyed her with wonder
As the glow from the gas-lamp fell on her cheek and under
The raven curls that unfolded along her shoulder –
No less fair was that face, though some twenty winters older
Than when it had leaned against his own young cheek –
He fumbled his hat, and vainly struggled to speak;
He desired to say how sorry he was for the act
That hurt her, how sure he was at the time of the fact
That he acted with virtue, that sometimes he seemed to hear
Some strange voice out of heaven – not often heard in this sphere –
That told him he must forget and forfeit all
Of his joy in this world if he would be true to the call
Of his Master, and serve his duty adequately;
But also he wanted to say that he loved her greatly,
That since that time not a day – not an hour – went by
But some vision of her and her grace would occupy
His memory, that often he paused and wondered how life
Would have past, with what peace, had he taken her then for his wife,
And as often he wondered whether indeed he had made
The nobler decision, but Time went by, and had laid
Her petrifying hand on that distant choice.
Regina looked up at him, and attempted to voice
The unclear emotions that troubled the well of her soul –
She wanted to say she forgave him the deed and the dole
It had caused her in youth – though she never could comprehend
The hard pilgrimage he made of his life, in the end
She knew he did all to serve God in the best of his light,
And that she, a young girl, and naïve – however she might
Rebel at the truth – she could never expect that her beauty
Could impose on his heart an equally binding duty
As the heavens oblige, but that still remembrance had kept
A place of affection for him, and sometimes she wept
When she thought of his gentle ways, as she wept when young.
So she wanted to speak, but the words would not form on her tongue,
And she only stood restless before him, shy, and repeating
The very words she had barely whispered in greeting:
“God keep you,” she said, “and may all go well with you.”
Soren was paralyzed with sorrow all through,
And could only manage to make an awkward bow
And walk on, though with heavy and hesitant shuffle, and now
The ambient light of the gas-lamp glows thin on a street
That is empty, as round the corner the sound of her feet
Fades away, and he, he climbs the ill-lit stairs
That lead to his studious chambers, and all that he hears
Is the harsh, distinct noise of his steps as they fall
On the wood, and reverberate through the silent hall.

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