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Poem by Francis Thompson
O thou most dear! Who art thy sex's complex harmony God-set more facilely; To thee may love draw near Without one blame or fear, Unchidden save by his humility: Thou Perseus' Shield! wherein I view secure The mirrored Woman's fateful-fair allure! Whom Heaven still leaves a twofold dignity, As girlhood gentle, and as boyhood free; With whom no most diaphanous webs enwind The barèd limbs of the rebukeless mind. Wild Dryad! all unconscious of thy tree, With which indissolubly The tyrannous time shall one day make thee whole; Whose frank arms pass unfretted through its bole: Who wear'st thy femineity Light as entrailèd blossoms, that shalt find It erelong silver shackles unto thee. Thou whose young sex is yet but in thy soul;-- As, hoarded in the vine, Hang the gold skins of undelirious wine, As air sleeps, till it toss its limbs in breeze:-- In whom the mystery which lures and sunders, Grapples and thrusts apart, endears, estranges, --The dragon to its own Hesperides-- Is gated under slow-revolving changes, Manifold doors of heavy-hingèd years. So once, ere Heaven's eyes were filled with wonders To see Laughter rise from Tears, Lay in beauty not yet mighty, Conchèd in translucencies, The antenatal Aphrodite, Caved magically under magic seas; Caved dreamlessly beneath the dreamful seas. "Whose sex is in thy soul!" What think we of thy soul? Which has no parts, and cannot grow, Unfurled not from an embryo; Born of full stature, lineal to control; And yet a pigmy's yoke must undergo. Yet must keep pace and tarry, patient, kind, With its unwilling scholar, the dull, tardy mind; Must be obsequious to the body's powers, Whose low hands mete its paths, set ope and close its ways; Must do obeisance to the days, And wait the little pleasure of the hours; Yea, ripe for kingship, yet must be Captive in statuted minority! So is all power fulfilled, as soul in thee. So still the ruler by the ruled takes rule, And wisdom weaves itself i' the loom o' the fool. The splendent sun no splendour can display, Till on gross things he dash his broken ray, From cloud and tree and flower re-tossed in prismy spray. Did not obstruction's vessel hem it in, Force were not force, would spill itself in vain; We know the Titan by his champèd chain. Stay is heat's cradle, it is rocked therein, And by check's hand is burnished into light; If hate were none, would love burn lowlier bright? God's Fair were guessed scarce but for opposite sin; Yea, and His Mercy, I do think it well, Is flashed back from the brazen gates of Hell. The heavens decree All power fulfil itself as soul in thee. For supreme Spirit subject was to clay, And Law from its own servants learned a law, And Light besought a lamp unto its way, And Awe was reined in awe, At one small house of Nazareth; And Golgotha Saw Breath to breathlessness resign its breath, And Life do homage for its crown to death.
Francis Thompson's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org