Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SOUL AND BODY, by LASCELLES ABERCROMBIE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SOUL AND BODY, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Art thou for breaking faith, after these years
Last Line: But all is perfect ecstasy.
Subject(s): Fidelity; Temptation; Faithfulness; Constancy


ART thou for breaking faith, after these years,
These many married years
Wherein we have ourselves so well delighted?
Why art thou sick? Art thou beginning fears
That our dear joys have been unholy things?
Trust me, since we have been so long plighted,—
Whate'er be this white worship thou dost mean
To reach on these unlucky wings,—
Thou wilt miss the wonder I have made for thee
Of this dear world with my fashioning senses,
The blue, the fragrance, the singing, and the green.
And thou wilt find, not having me,
Crippled thy high powers, gone to doubt
Thy indignation and thy love, without
Help of my lust, and the anger of my blood,
And my tears.
Try me again; dost thou remember how we stood
And lookt upon the world exultingly?
What is for rapture better than these?—
Great places of grassy land, and all the air
One quiet, the sun taking golden ease
Upon an afternoon;
Tall hills that stand in weather-blinded trances
As if they heard, drawn upward and held there,
Some god's eternal tune;
I made them so, I with my fashioning senses
Made the devoted hills: have their great patiences
Not lent thee any health of ecstasy?
Or when the north came shouting to the beach,
Wind that would gag in his throat a lion's speech,
And spindrift with a whining hiss went by
Like swords,—wert thou not glad with me?
O who will lodge thee better than I have done
In exultation?—I who alone
Can wash thee in the sacring of moonlight,
Or send thee soaring even that above
Into the wise and unimaginable night,
The chambers of the holy fear,
Or bring thee to the breasts of love.


Dear Body, my loved friend, poor thanks have I
For all this service. As if fires had made me clean,
I come out of thy experience,
Thy blue, thy fragrance, thy singing, and thy green,
Passions of love, and most, that holy fear:
Well hast thou done to me with every sense.
But there's for me a fiercer kind
Of joy, that feels not, knows not, deaf and blind:
And these but led to it, that we did try
When we were person, thou and I;
Woe for me if I should dare
Partake in person now I see
The lights of unware ecstasy.
I must not in amazement stay,
Henceforth I am for a way
Beyond thy senses, beauty and fear,
Beyond wonder even.
I want neither earth nor heaven,
I will not have ken or desire,
But only joy higher and higher
Burning knowledge in its white fire
Till I am no more aware
And no more saying "I am I,"
But all is perfect ecstasy.

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