MY beauty in thy deep pure love

Anchors its homage far above

All lights of heaven. The stars awake;

The very stars bend down to take

From its fresh fragrance for the sake

Of their own cloud-compelling peace.

On earth there lies a silver fleece

Of new-fallen snow, secure from sun,

In alleys, leafy every one

This year already with the spring.

The breeze blows freshly, thrushes sing,

And all the woods are burgeoning

With quick new buds; across the snow

The scent of violets to and fro

Wafts at the hour of dawn. Alone

I wait, a figure turned to stone

(Or salt for pain). A week ago

Thine arms embraced me; now I know

Far off they clasp the empty air:

Thy lips seek home, and in despair

Lament aloud over the frosted moor.

Sad am I, sad, albeit sure

There is no change of God above

And no abatement of our love.

For still, though thou be gone, I see

In the glad mirror secretly

That I am beautiful in thee.

Thy love irradiates my eyes,

Tints my skin gold; its melodies

Of music run over my face;

Smiles envy kisses in the race

To bathe beneath my eyelids. Light

Clothes me and circles with the might

Of warmer rosier suns. Thy kiss

Dwells on my bosom, and it is

A glittering mount of fire, that burns

Incense unnamed to heaven, and yearns

In smoke toward thy home. Desire

Bellies the sails of molten fire

Upon the ship of Youth with wind

Urgently panting out behind,

Impatient till the strand appear {108A}

And the blue sea have ceased to rear

Fountains of foam against the prow.

Hail! I can vision even now

That golden shore. A lake of light

Burns to the sky; above, the night

Hovers, her wings grown luminous.

(I think she dearly loveth us.)

The sand along the glittering shore

Is all of diamond; rivers pour

Unceasing floods of light along,

Whose virtue is so bitter strong

That he who bathes within them straight

Rises an angel to the gate

Of heaven and enters as a king.

Birds people it on varied wing

Of rainbow; fishes gold and fine

Dart like bright stars through fount and brine,

And all the sea about our wake

Foams with the silver water-snake.

There is a palace veiled in mist.

A single magic amethyst

Built it; the incense soothly sighs;

So the light stream upon it lies.

There thou art dwelling. I am ware

The music of thine eyes and hair

Calls to the wind to chase our ship

Faster toward; the waters slip

Smoothly and swift beneath the keel.

The pulses of the vessel feel

I draw toward thee; now the sails

Hang idly, for the golden gales

Drop as the vessel grates the sand.

Come, thou true love, and hold my hand!

I tremble (for my love) to land.

I feel thy arms around me steal;

Thy breath upon my cheeks I feel;

Thy lips draw out to mine: the breath

Of ocean grows as still as death;

The breezes swoon for very bliss.

The sacrament of true love’s kiss

Accomplishes: I feel a pain

Stab my heart through and sleep again,

And I am in thine arms for ever.

. . . . .

There came a tutor, who had never

Known the response of love to love;

He wandered through the woods above

The river, and came suddenly {108B}

Where he lay sleeping. Purity

And joy beyond the speech of man

Dwelt on his face, divinely wan.

“How beautiful is sleep!” he saith,

Bends over him. There is no breath,

No sound, no motion: it is death.

And gazing on the happy head

“How beautiful is Death!” he said.

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The scene of this poem is a little spinney near the wooden bridge in Love Lane, Cambridge. – A.C.


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