It is the Constant Image of Your Face
It is the constant image of your face framed in my hands as you knelt before my chair the grave attention of your eyes surveying me amid my world of knives that stays with me, perennially accuses and convicts me of heart’s-treachery; and neither you nor I can plead excuses for you, you know, can claim no loyalty – my land takes precedence of all my loves. Yet I beg mitigation, pleading guilty for you, my dear, accomplice of my heart made, without words, such blackmail with your beauty and proffered me such dear protectiveness that I confess without remorse or shame, my still-fresh treason to my country and I hope that she, my other, dearest love will pardon freely, not attaching blame being your mistress (or your match) in tenderness.
The persona seems to be a statesman (or some sort of stakeholder or representative of his country) who is accused of heartbreak by his lover. It appears that there was an event in the past where he was unfaithful- seemingly to his lover. However, there can be no excuse for either of them, he believes, since loyalty to one's country supersedes all else. He can claim no loyalty to her, but neither can she to him, as the persona considers his country to be above all of his other loves. Now however, he pleads for forgiveness of some sort, confessing freely his denial of his own country. His lover, the 'accomplice of his heart' in denying his country, has treated him with such tender love that he cannot simply ignore it. He hopes that his country will be able to forgive him. As he now compares the love he holds for his lover and his land, he reveals his own confusion. He loves his land and this woman. One, he believes should take precedence above all others, and the other, has conspired with his heart to siphon some of his affection for the other. He cannot discern which one is more dear to his heart, which one is more tender.
The tone of this poem is remorseful and wistful. The mood is solemn and sad, with a sense of guilt. The themes of the poem include patriotism, divided loyalties and romantic love vs love of one's country.
"It is the constant image of your face, framed in my hands as you knelt before my chair the grave attention of your eyes surveying me amid my world of knives"
The image of his lover's face remains ceaselessly in his mind. He holds her face in his hands as she kneels before him. Her eyes inspect him gravely. This gives the impression of anguish and deep emotion. The phrase 'world of knives' conveys the idea that the persona is surrounded by a world of brutality, or even an internal conflict.
"that stays with me, perennially accuses and convicts me of heart’s-treachery;"
This image seems to haunt him, permanently embedded into his mind. It accuses and convicts him of 'heart's-treachery." What he saw in the attentive eyes of his lover stayed with him and caused a great deal of emotional pain. The use of the word 'convicts' gives the impression of a direct encumbering of guilt upon the persona. 'Heart's treachery' here, evidently meaning heartbreak, is an oxymoron, considering that the heart is a symbol of love and compassion, completely contrasted by the concept of treachery and betrayal.
"and neither you nor I can plead excuses for you, you know, can claim no loyalty – my land takes precedence of all my loves."
Neither the persona nor his lover can 'plead excuses' for his apparent infidelity. They can't claim loyalty to each other, as the persona believes unequivocally that loyalty to his country should be above all other perceived loves. Thus , he feels unbound to her due to how he prioritizes patriotism.
"Yet I beg mitigation, pleading guilty for you, my dear, accomplice of my heart made, without words, such blackmail with your beauty and proffered me such dear protectiveness, that I confess without remorse or shame, my still-fresh treason to my country"
Now, the persona is begging acquittal for his seeming perfidy. He admits his wrongdoing. His lover is the 'accomplice of his heart,' a person who has conspired with him to take some of his affection for his country. He sort of introduces the idea that they both share culpability for betraying his greater love. Wordlessly, she blackmails him with her beauty, forcing him to become a backsliding lover when it comes to his country. Her love, protective and tender, has caused him to confess freely the way he now seems to have given his love to another, apart from his precedent love (his country). He considers this treason, a betrayal of the love he thinks should be above all else.
"and I hope that she, my other, dearest love will pardon freely, not attaching blame being your mistress (or your match) in tenderness."
The persona hopes against hope that his country will be able to pardon him for this. The final line reveals more of his confusion, as cannot discern which one is more dear and tender to him.