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Kowhai Gold

[Hubert Church]

page 147


Here is a gulf of amber dropping down
Like the clear gleam of honey from a jar.
No wind moves any shallow to a frown;
Hills sleep like an old turret clov'n with scar
Healed by the grey romances. Will a thought
A Greek maid dropped upon the dappled sand
Come to our gleaming silence who have sought
Nepenthe in this clean, untrodden land?

The sea from warm iEgina may have filled
The watery apse behind the rock with words
Her pained heart poured about her so they stilled
The air with love's caress. The waves were birds
To bear athwart the vast blue hemisphere
Her adoration, her felicity,
Her mournfulness, her desolating fear
That love is never all that love can be.

Or bears the sea a vow of Pericles?
The shining armour of his fortitude
Glittering to memory through the centuries
For men that love a God's similitude.
For them that love the true, Eternity,
Not all forgetting life's perpetual quest,
Moves through the troubled triumph of the sea,
And though we know it not God is confest.

page 148

Heart, drop below the horizon vague the earth
Thou bearest evermore mid hum of men;
Conceive immaculately a new birth,
Thought, wonder, and delight; with power again
To be the foster-child of magic. Soul,
Take all the virgin forest and the hills,
And the impetuous cataract to its goal
The sea, for thy triumphant strength that fills
Thy shadeless leaping forth anew: abide
No longer with recumbent sloth that fails,
Companion to salt tears—rise deified
Like sleeping isle awaked by morning on far sails.

I would believe no man hath ever trod
These altar steps fringed with the cold seaweed.
Let me be here thy sacristan, O God,
Sundered from Earth's low thought and lower deed.
Power primitive is over all the beach,
The solemn cliff leans evermore to hear,
The cloud is like the stricken hart to reach
Seclusion of the hills—I feel anear
Mighty emotion stifled in grey towns
Sickening with sin, and cold and deaf and blind
To exaltation loving old renowns
Of men who sought the last recesses of God's mind.

I am as one who looketh on a ghost.
Transfigured from the earth, here I am made
Part of the secrecy withheld the most
Of all the mighty Being hath displayed.
page 149 The elements of carnal life are hid—
The strife, the fall, the joy too cheaply spent;
The selfish ecstasy—and I am bid
Take heart for Death's awaiting complement.
What is too pure for daily breath I breathe,
What too magnificent for light I see;
Thoughts chambered like a minster cloud enwreathe
My soul, no more too deep, too full, for me.