Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A HYMN OF FORM, by GORDON BOTTOMLEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A HYMN OF FORM, by             Poem Explanation     Poet's Biography
First Line: The holy virtue of living, the soul's delight
Last Line: As if, after all, god is and is about to speak.
Subject(s): Form

THE holy virtue of living, the soul's delight,
The sense of ordination that accuses,
The excellent wonder of limit whence day and night
Gather eternity and change;
Yea, great desire so great that it refuses,
And reverence that loses,
Are form -- the nature of godhead to derange,
To keep all vivid, fruitful, vitally strange:
Form without reason, with no explanation by uses.

Water's power and presence
Composed by a far moon's crescence,
The warm huge lazy drift of the bended sea:
The change of a short season,
Nude rhythm, no growth, no lesion,
That makes a worm be earth, wet earth be a tree:
The building of deity, and then
The unbuilding of deity again
And calling God by a new name
To keep Him yet awhile the same:
We do not forget these things. We know
There is no progress anywhere --
By dark recurrence alone we grow
Endless, immortal, godlike, bare,
And do not care.
The power of Form divines us, heavy and slow,
Heedless and fair.

This is the instinct of our perfecting:
The lust of creation, the ache for forming,
The mathematic beauty warming
As intellectual exact ardours sting
Till proud inevitable solutions spring.

Form is eternal father of existence;
Form is change of colour; it is distance --
That faint last air of inward light
Which stirs our only divination
That where we stand is infinite.
Form works within the purging and the strife
Of prayer and other acts of imagination;
In the disconcerting logic of a woman,
Delicate and inhuman,
Which makes all living nothing in desire of life.
A vacant thing it seems
Touched with inscrutable gleams,
Till knowledge of shadows leaves
Mysterious life which cleaves --
The body most revealed by perfect clothing.
Form is completion and will say
(As cypress turns its edges to the air,
Unguidable and spare)
"Bring not one touch; take that away --
A little more and there would be nothing."

There is a planet girds itself with rings;
A woman fashions slow unconsciousness,
Her body quiet as a mind.
Blindness and Blake and all primeval things
(Blindness, that moonlight of the senses' space)
Contain a primitive order unconfined,
Depths of denial, wells of might --
Form without reason, with no explanation by uses:
Rapt in gigantic joy that with no thinking chooses,
It knows its mastery; and this delight
The Jews by their Jehovah signify
Who thrust the darkness rolling down the sky.
The spider's web is part of the spider's nerves;
Its edge of lines merges as near to curves
As intuitions of colour to shapes that stir them,
Yet no curves ever come;
But, if a touch makes curves, the thing will fear them
And reach a dreadful thigh because he is dumb.
Form, grown so real and indivisible,
Broods on itself as though it could not cease --
White eagerness transcending up a rill
That seems like peace.

Peace? The creators are forbidden peace;
To reach down fire and laughter from the skies
Leaves a new longing and a hard unease
As if to suffer the gleam on the pale seas
And that which in it cries.
Peace comes alone by form just perfected,
By moments that may bring
An earth to death, discovering,
Before one ruining mountain can be shed,
Rabbits' twitched ears above the lengthening grass
Heightning the hush upon the evening
Till rapture seems quite poised, never to pass.
Form comes, peace comes; the heart stands still, then reels;
(Night makes a mirror of a window-pane
And shows one waiting for love her lonely cheek);
One moment, as when ousels pause for rain,
A bloom is on the air, until it feels
As if, after all, God is and is about to speak.

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