The Dark Cavalier

I am the Dark Cavalier; I am the Last Lover:
My arms shall welcome you when other arms are tired;
I stand to wait for you, patient in the darkness,
Offering forgetfulness of all that you desired.

I ask no merriment, no pretense of gladness,
I can love heavy lids and lips without their rose;
Though you are sorrowful you will not weary me;
I will not go from you when all the tired world goes.

I am the Dark Cavalier; I am the Last Lover;
I promise faithfulness no other lips may keep;
Safe in my bridal place, comforted by darkness,
You shall lie happily, smiling in your sleep.


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 9, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The Dark Cavalier” appears in Margaret Widdemer’s collection The Old Road to Paradise (Henry Holt and Company, 1918). Oft republished and heavily anthologized, the poem is recognized as one of Widdemer’s best. Poet Margery Swett Mansfield, in a review of Widdemer’s work published in Poetry magazine, vol. 33, no. 5 (Feb 1929), calls it “Margaret Widdemer at her emotional best [. . .].” In The Literary Digest, vol. 57, no. 6 (May 11, 1918), the editors claim that Widdemer “has seldom done a finer piece of work than when she wrote this haunting lyric [. . .].” Finally, in a biographical note at the end of The Second Book of Modern Verse (Houghton Mifflin, 1920), critic, editor, and poet Jessie Belle Rittenhouse writes, “She is a poet of much delicacy, and several of her poems, notably ‘The Dark Cavalier’ in this volume, are among the best lyric work of the period.”