And from my poet's forehead to my heart

Receive this lock which outweighs argosies,--

As purply black, as erst to Pindar's eyes

The dim purpureal tresses gloomed athwart

The nine white Muse-brows. For this counterpart, . . .

The bay crown's shade, Beloved, I surmise,

Still lingers on thy curl, it is so black!

Thus, with a fillet of smooth-kissing breath,

I tie the shadows safe from gliding back,

And lay the gift where nothing hindereth;

Here on my heart, as on thy brow, to lack

No natural heat till mine grows cold in death.

XX

Beloved, my Beloved, when I think

That thou wast in the world a year ago,

What time I sat alone here in the snow

And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink

No moment at thy voice, but, link by link,

Went counting all my chains as if that so

They never could fall off at any blow

Struck by thy possible hand,--why, thus I drink

Of life's great cup of wonder! Wonderful,

Never to feel thee thrill the day or night

With personal act or speech,--nor ever cull

Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white

Thou sawest growing! Atheists are as dull,

Who cannot guess God's presence out of sight.

XXI

Say over again, and yet once over again,

That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated

Should seem a "cuckoo-song," as thou dost treat it,

Remember, never to the hill or plain,

Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain

Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.

Beloved, I, amid the darkness greeted

By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt's pain

Cry, "Speak once more--thou lovest!" Who can fear

Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,

Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?

Say thou dost love me, love me, love me--toll

The silver iterance!--only minding, Dear,

To love me also in silence with thy soul.

XXII

When our two souls stand up erect and strong,

Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,

Until the lengthening wings break into fire

At either curved point,--what bitter wrong

Can the earth do to us, that we should not long

Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,

The angels would press on us and aspire

To drop some golden orb of perfect song

Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay

Rather on earth, Beloved,--where the unfit

Contrarious moods of men recoil away

And isolate pure spirits, and permit

A place to stand and love in for a day,

With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.

XXIII

Is it indeed so? If I lay here dead,

Wouldst thou miss any life in losing mine?

And would the sun for thee more coldly shine

Because of grave-damps falling round my head?

I marvelled, my Beloved, when I read

Thy thought so in the letter. I am thine--

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