The Great War

from November: Poems in War Time, an electronic edition

To Love

LOVE, to the little-loving nebulous Thou appearest:

Their eyes worship not Thee. Now that I get Thy range

How beyond belief exquisite is Thy form!

Thou starry Light-bearer, young-eyed Child of the Morning,

Impartest the purposeful meaning of the Creation

To the learners of Thee.--O Joy everlasting,

We that learn Thee are one joy, one composite glory--

As a golden Dandelion, all our florets together

One flower in a field! As the sun, heavenly Dandelion,

Rays light forever out recklessly, keeps no account of it,

What he means is to shine, God help him!--so is the lover.

So is the man raised up in Thee to the power of his manhood,

Stedfastly golden, resplendent, joy-outpouring.

Yea, as the god-like Sun, that Unit of Lovers

Stablished in heaven to radiate earth-impregnating joy,

Are we Thy learners, together his fellow, the Company

Of Them that Beget Delight . . .

To beget a love-child who would not give the price Earth asks?

But O, blessèd are they that, loving, beget the invisible

Form of Thy pure power, mighty deliverer,

Spirit of Sunshine!--

Apart from Thee, Love, Power is a monster.

Empty of value.

Vain all the wealth of nations, if it be not for

Thy spending:

Wasted the resolute toil of a people not learnèd in Thee.--

Thine is fruition. There is no joy but rejoiceth in Thee.--

Love, lacking Thee, the ages miscarry. Their gathered-up knowledge

Is naught, for without Thee Truth is not.--

Thou alone knowest the whole use of the world.--

The use of the world is at last Thy joy that abides:

Substance eternal, ether irradiant with the complete

Purpose of an inexhaustible life outpoured.--

He who carries the wonder within him knows it divine.--

Thou, Love, alone settest free.--I feel Thy passion

Patiently gather within me: Thy procreant power grow

Sure in me of its sanctity: not-to-be-thwarted: god-like:

All of me handling with calm clear eyes of decision :

Pouring my life forth with a Hand that is yet my hand.--

Thou duly directest the crawling caterpillar,

Else a vain destroyer of delicate promises,

Eater of buds:--Thou transformest him into an airy carrier

To and fro in the fields of the flowers' messages.

It is only toward Thee at last that Desire emerges

Out of its chrysalis into the light on wings.--

Thou createst a whole out of this confusion of parts,

In Thee the excesses of passion that are not wholesome for life

Are justified: they come at last to their measure in Thee.

Infinite Thy demand, O Love, as the infinite blind

Urge of unuttered longing: wild, pent-up to madness:

Fiery mouth not to be quenched at dear lips: whose kisses

Poison its love, till Thou, God, overpowering

That stormy power with Thy purpose, yoke it, exuberant

To Thy task of creating Joy not less but more passionate.--

Thou givest eyes to Desire.--All my meaningless parts

Love, when thou touchest me, Thou sanctifiest with sight.--

Thou makest whole that takest not less than all that I can be.

That only Thou ownest for Thine wherein a man pledges

Body and soul and spirit in one passion, holding

Earth for his witness and the eternal stars.--

When I began to love, and felt my soul going forth

Away from me to the Unknown, I was afraid to be squandered,--

So many a greedy mouth: many a snatching hunger!--

After, I feared lest this that was precious only for spending,

Life's own seed, in me hoarded remain, and perish.

Of Thee less ignorant now, I fear either death no longer.

Immanent in our loving, Thou transcendest, O Love, our passion:

All of our love together is but a little of Thee.--

Within Thine orb, as within the all-circling horizon,

Each of my passionate loves shines in his place, secure:

Ever-sustainer of loveliness, world-enamouring presence,

Loving them, I give worship, O not to them, but to Thee.

Thou fulfillest, O Love, my entire manhood with praise.

Thou art as the Sun. Thou beholdest the ugly secrets of shame

Averting not thence Thy clear eyes: changing not into hatred

Their undismayed regard.--Derelict, desert-defeated,

The poor pilgrim of life in his last extremity

Catches that wonderful gaze and on the instant forgets

His dismay at the cries of the flocking heavy-winged birds.

As with the triumphing choral of the great Ninth Symphony

Joy breaks out of his torn body to Thy embrace.--

Who now shall sustain the lad, the soldier descending,

Snatched like Koré the Maid from an April world, down

Into the bowels of death, into the underworld air,

There to do battle, to make corpses with his young hands--?

Only Thou art sufficient, down in that place, to keep

His spirit alive. Day-spring of beauty inexhaustible,

Love Divine, in whose Almighty power I uphold him.--

When I forget Thee, how helpless my love is of succour!

Love is a pitiful thing once it is parted from Thee.