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Poem by Francis Thompson
To the Dead Cardinal of Westminster
I will not perturbate Thy Paradisal state With praise Of thy dead days; To the new-heavened say,— “Spirit, thou wert fine clay:” This do, Thy praise who knew. Therefore my spirit clings Heaven’s porter by the wings, And holds Its gated golds Apart, with thee to press A private business;— Whence, Deign me audience. Anchorite, who didst dwell With all the world for cell My soul Round me doth roll A sequestration bare. Too far alike we were, Too far Dissimilar. For its burning fruitage I Do climb the tree o’ the sky; Do prize Some human eyes. You smelt the Heaven-blossoms, And all the sweet embosoms The dear Uranian year. Those Eyes my weak gaze shuns, Which to the suns are Suns. Did Not affray your lid. The carpet was let down (With golden mouldings strown) For you Of the angels’ blue. But I, ex-Paradised, The shoulder of your Christ Find high To lean thereby. So flaps my helpless sail, Bellying with neither gale, Of Heaven Nor Orcus even. Life is a coquetry Of Death, which wearies me, Too sure Of the amour; A tiring-room where I Death’s divers garments try, Till fit Some fashion sit. It seemeth me too much I do rehearse for such A mean And single scene. The sandy glass hence bear— Antique remembrancer; My veins Do spare its pains. With secret sympathy My thoughts repeat in me Infirm The turn o’ the worm Beneath my appointed sod: The grave is in my blood; I shake To winds that take Its grasses by the top; The rains thereon that drop Perturb With drip acerb My subtly answering soul; The feet across its knoll Do jar Me from afar. As sap foretastes the spring; As Earth ere blossoming Thrills With far daffodils, And feels her breast turn sweet With the unconceivèd wheat; So doth My flesh foreloathe The abhorrèd spring of Dis, With seething presciences Affirm The preparate worm. I have no thought that I, When at the last I die, Shall reach To gain your speech. But you, should that be so, May very well, I know, May well To me in hell With recognising eyes Look from your Paradise— “God bless Thy hopelessness!” Call, holy soul, O call The hosts angelical, And say,— “See, far away “Lies one I saw on earth; One stricken from his birth With curse Of destinate verse. “What place doth He ye serve For such sad spirit reserve,— Given, In dark lieu of Heaven, “The impitiable Dæmon, Beauty, to adore and dream on, To be Perpetually “Hers, but she never his? He reapeth miseries, Foreknows His wages woes; “He lives detachèd days; He serveth not for praise; For gold He is not sold; “Deaf is he to world’s tongue; He scorneth for his song The loud Shouts of the crowd; “He asketh not world’s eyes; Not to world’s ears he cries; Saith,—‘These Shut, if ye please;’ “He measureth world’s pleasure, World’s ease as Saints might measure; For hire Just love entire “He asks, not grudging pain; And knows his asking vain, And cries— ‘Love! Love!’ and dies; “In guerdon of long duty, Unowned by Love or Beauty; And goes— Tell, tell, who knows! “Aliens from Heaven’s worth, Fine beasts who nose i’ the earth, Do there Reward prepare. “But are his great desires Food but for nether fires? Ah me, A mystery! “Can it be his alone, To find when all is known, That what He solely sought “Is lost, and thereto lost All that its seeking cost? That he Must finally, “Through sacrificial tears, And anchoretic years, Tryst With the sensualist?” So ask; and if they tell The secret terrible, Good friend, I pray thee send Some high gold embassage To teach my unripe age. Tell! Lest my feet walk hell.
Francis Thompson's other poems:
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