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Poem by Francis Thompson

House of Bondage


When I perceive Love's heavenly reaping still
Regard perforce the clouds' vicissitude,
That the fixed spirit loves not when it will,
But craves its seasons of the flawful blood;
When I perceive that the high poet doth
Oft voiceless stray beneath the uninfluent stars,
That even Urania of her kiss is loath,
And Song's brave wings fret on their sensual bars;
When I perceived the fullest-sail-ed sprite
Lag at most need upon the leth-ed seas,
The provident captainship oft voided quite,
And lam-ed lie deep-draughted argosies;
I scorn myself, that put for such strange toys
The wit of man to purposes of boys.


The spirit's ark sealed with a little clay,
Was old ere Memphis grew a memory;
The hand pontifical to break away
That seal what shall surrender? Not the sea
Which did englut great Egypt and his war,
Nor all the desert-drown-ed sepulchres.
Love's feet are stained with clay and travel-sore,
And dusty are Song's lucent wing and hairs.
O Love, that must do courtesy to decay,
Eat hasty bread standing with loins up-girt,
How shall this stead thy feet for their sore way?
Ah, Song, what brief embraces balm thy hurt!
Had Jacob's toil full guerdon, casting his
Twice-seven heaped years to burn in Rachel's kiss?

Francis Thompson

Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. Epilogue to the Poet's Sitter
  2. A Fallen Yew
  3. A Judgment in Heaven
  4. To My Godchild, Francis M.W.M.
  5. Any Saint

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