Talk with prudence to a Beggar
Of "Potosi," and the mines!
Reverently, to the Hungry
Of your viands, and your wines!
Cautious, hint to any Captive
You have passed enfranchised feet!
Anecdotes of air, in Dungeons
Have sometimes proved deadly sweet!
- F 118 (1859) 119
|Inca laborers mining Potosi silver|
for the Spanish colonialists
Instead of yearning for freedom, food, or riches, however, the poet may be longing for love or Paradise. One imagines her thinking of the men she loved and flirted with, or Sue whose fickle loyalty and affection she always desired. But I also think of all the poems she wrote about longing for Paradise and I wonder if she wasn’t thinking of that. Talk of Paradise might indeed prove “deadly sweet” to one who longs for it. She makes this point quite clearly in the last two lines. Speaking of life outside of prison to a prisoner might induce a suicide attempt.