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Poem by Edith Nesbit
I. IT is not Love, this beautiful unrest, This tremor of longing that invades my breast: For Love is in his grave this many a year, He will not rise--I do not wish him here. It is not memory, for your face and eyes Are not reflected where that dark pool lies: It is not hope, for life makes no amends, And hope and I are long no longer friends: It is a ghost out of another Spring It needs but little for its comforting-- That I should hold your hand and see your face And muse a little in this quiet place, Where, through the silence, I can hear you sigh And feel you sadden, O Virgin Mystery, And know my thought has in your thought begot Sadness, its child, and that you know it not. II. If this were Love, if all this bitter pain Were but the birth-pang of Love born again, If through the doubts and dreams resolved, smiled The prophetic promise of the holy child, What should I gain? The Love whose dream-lips smiled Could never be my own and only child, But to Love's birth would come, with the last pain, Renunciation, also born again. III. If this were Love why should I turn away? Am I not, too, made of the common clay? Is life so fair, am I so fortunate, I can refuse the capricious gift of Fate, The sudden glory, the unhoped-for flowers, The transfiguration of my earthly hours? Come, Love! the house is garnished and is swept, Washed clean with all the tears that I have wept, Washed from the stain of my unworthy fears, Hung with the splendid spoils of wasted years, Lighted with lamps of hope, and curtained fast Against the gathered darkness of the past. I draw the bolts! I throw the portals wide, The darkness rushes shivering to my side, Love is not here--the darkness creeps about My house wherein the lamps of hope die out. Ah Love! it was not then your hand that came Beating my door? your voice that called my name? IV. 'It is not Love, it is not Love,' I said, And bowed in fearful hope my trembling head. 'It is not Love, for Love could never rise Out of the rock-hewn grave wherein he lies.' But as I spake, the heavenly form drew near Where close I clasped a hope grown keen as fear, Upon my head His very hand He laid And whispered, 'It is I, be not afraid!' V. And this is Love, no rose-crowned laughing guest By whom my passionate heart should be caressed, But one re-risen from the grave; austere, Cold as the grave, and infinitely dear, To follow whom I lay the whole world down, Take up the cross, bind on the thorny crown; And, following whom, my bleeding pilgrim feet Find the rough pathway sure and very sweet. The august environment of mighty wings Shuts out the snare of vain imaginings, For by my side, crowned with Love's death-white rose, The Angel of Renunciation goes.
Edith Nesbit's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org