Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEGY: THE GHOST WHOSE LIPS WERE WARM; FOR GEOFFREY GORER, by EDITH SITWELL



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ELEGY: THE GHOST WHOSE LIPS WERE WARM; FOR GEOFFREY GORER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The ice, weeping, breaks
Last Line: "she had to warm her eternal night."
Subject(s): Ghosts; Supernatural


"T. M., Esq., an old acquaintance of mine, hath assured me, that
. . . after his first wife's death, as he lay in bed awake . . . his wife
opened the Closet Door, and came into the Chamber by the Bed
side, and looked upon him and stooped down and kissed him; her
Lips were warm, he fancied they would have been cold. He was
about to have Embraced her, but was afraid it might have done him
hurt. When she went from him, he asked her when he should see
her again? She turned about and smiled, but said nothing." -- Miscellanies
collected by John Aubrey, Esq., F.R.S., 1696.

"THE ice, weeping, breaks.
But my heart is underground.
And the ice of its dead tears melts never. Wakes
No sigh, no sound,

From where the dead lie close, as those above --
The young -- lie in their first deep night of love,

When the spring nights are fiery with wild dew, and rest
Leaves on young leaves, and youthful breast on breast.

The dead lie soft in the first fire of spring
And through the eternal cold, they hear birds sing,

And smile as if the one long-treasured kiss
Had worn away their once-loved lips to this

Remembered smile -- for there is always one
Kiss that we take to be our grave's long sun.

Once Time was but the beat of heart to heart;
And one kiss burnt the imperfect woof apart

Of this dead world, and summer broke from this:
We built new worlds with one immortal kiss.

Sun of my life, she went to warm the dead,
And I must now go sunless in their stead.

They clothed a dead man in my dress. By day
He walks the earth, by night he rots away;

So walks a dead man, waning, in my dress,
By black disastrous suns of death grown less,

Grown dim and shrunken, wax before a fire,
A shrunken apeish thing, blackened and dire.

This black disastrous sun yet hath no heat.
How shall I bear my heart without its beat,

My clay without its soul, my eternal bone
That cries to its deserting flesh, alone,

More cold than she is in her grave's long night,
That hath my heart for covering, warmth, and light.

* * * * *

But when she had been twelve months in her grave
She came where I lay in my bed: she gave

Her kiss. And oh, her lips were warm to me.
And so I feared it, dared not touch and see

If still her heart were warm . . . dust-dun, death-cold
Lips should be from death's night. I dared not hold

That heart that came warm from the grave . . . afraid,
I tore down all the earth of death, and laid

Its endless cold upon her heart. For this
Dead man in my dress dared not kiss

Her who laid by death's cold, lest I
Should feel it when she came to lie

Beside my heart. My dead love gave
Lips warm with love though in her grave.

I stole her kiss, the only light
She had to warm her eternal night."





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