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Poem by Francis Thompson


Poet and Anchorite


    Love and love's beauty only hold their revels
    In life's familiar, penetrable levels:
              What of its ocean-floor?
              I dwell there evermore.
              From almost earliest youth
              I raised the lids o' the truth,
    And forced her bend on me her shrinking sight;
    Ever I knew me Beauty's eremite,
        In antre of this lowly body set,
            Girt with a thirsty solitude of soul.
              Natheless I not forget
    How I have, even as the anchorite,
            I too, imperishing essences that console.
    Under my ruined passions, fallen and sere,
        The wild dreams stir, like little radiant girls,
    Whom in the moulted plumage of the year
        Their comrades sweet have buried to the curls.
    Yet, though their dedicated amorist,
    How often do I bid my visions hist,
        Deaf to them, pleading all their piteous fills;
    Who weep, as weep the maidens of the mist
        Clinging the necks of the unheeding hills:
    And their tears wash them lovelier than before,
    That from grief's self our sad delight grows more.
    Fair are the soul's uncrispèd calms, indeed,
        Endiapered with many a spiritual form
              Of blosmy-tinctured weed;
    But scarce itself is conscious of the store
    Suckled by it, and only after storm
    Casts up its loosened thoughts upon the shore.
            To this end my deeps are stirred;
            And I deem well why life unshared
            Was ordainèd me of yore.
            In pairing-time, we know, the bird
            Kindles to its deepmost splendour,
              And the tender
              Voice is tenderest in its throat:
            Were its love for ever nigh it,
                  Never by it,
              It might keep a vernal note,
            The crocean and amethystine
                  In their pristine
              Lustre linger on its coat.
            Therefore must my song-bower lone be,
                  That my tone be
              Fresh with dewy pain alway;
            She, who scorns my dearest care ta'en,
                  An uncertain
              Shadow of the sprite of May.



Francis Thompson


Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. Epilogue to the Poet's Sitter
  2. A Fallen Yew
  3. Any Saint
  4. Scala Jacobi Portaque Eburnea
  5. A Judgment in Heaven


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