But . . . so much to thee? Can I pour thy wine

While my hands tremble? Then my soul, instead

Of dreams of death, resumes life's lower range.

Then, love me, Love! look on me--breathe on me!

As brighter ladies do not count it strange,

For love, to give up acres and degree,

I yield the grave for thy sake, and exchange

My near sweet view of heaven, for earth with thee!

XXIV

Let the world's sharpness like a clasping knife

Shut in upon itself and do no harm

In this close hand of Love, now soft and warm,

And let us hear no sound of human strife

After the click of the shutting. Life to life--

I lean upon thee, Dear, without alarm,

And feel as safe as guarded by a charm

Against the stab of worldlings, who if rife

Are weak to injure. Very whitely still

The lilies of our lives may reassure

Their blossoms from their roots, accessible

Alone to heavenly dews that drop not fewer;

Growing straight, out of man's reach, on the hill.

God only, who made us rich, can make us poor.

XXV

A heavy heart, Beloved, have I borne

From year to year until I saw thy face,

And sorrow after sorrow took the place

Of all those natural joys as lightly worn

As the stringed pearls, each lifted in its turn

By a beating heart at dance-time. Hopes apace

Were changed to long despairs, till God's own grace

Could scarcely lift above the world forlorn

My heavy heart. Then thou didst bid me bring

And let it drop adown thy calmly great

Deep being! Fast it sinketh, as a thing

Which its own nature does precipitate,

While thine doth close above it, mediating

Betwixt the stars and the unaccomplished fate.

XXVI

I lived with visions for my company

Instead of men and women, years ago,

And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know

A sweeter music than they played to me.

But soon their trailing purple was not free

Of this world's dust, their lutes did silent grow,

And I myself grew faint and blind below

Their vanishing eyes. Then thou didst come--to be,

Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,

Their songs, their splendours, (better, yet the same,

As river-water hallowed into fonts)

Met in thee, and from out thee overcame

My soul with satisfaction of all wants:

Because God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.

XXVII

My own Beloved, who hast lifted me

From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown,

And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown

A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully

Shines out again, as all the angels see,

Before thy saving kiss! My own, my own,

Who camest to me when the world was gone,

And I who looked for only God, found thee!

I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad.

As one who stands in dewless asphodel,

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