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



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A HYMN OF TOUCH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: These magnificent senses
Last Line: Of all senses magnificent.
Subject(s): Touch (Sense)


THESE magnificent senses
Are all life, one sense, enlightenment
Of any salvation; poised eternal expenses
On loveliness, the one music, intent;
Senses heightened, senses magnificent.

Every man of art has loved one sense,
Loved it into governance of his ways;
Sound prepared Milton for his dense
Primitive blindness, mirror intense,
Dark mirror where Heaven and each dark thing repeats;
Gautier guessed at life in his palate's space;
Colour flavoured the Springtide that was Keats;
Rossetti mistook odour into colour,
Even his full forms by odour were fuller.
A sense to each; the ways of them were such.

I await the god, the illumined who shall know
The justice of each sense is tact, is touch;
I await a kindler of the worlds to show
Many portions of art grown one by touch,
Touch like the unfelt wind that changes the stars;
That melts the heart at news of women's old wars;
Touch like the searching sympathies
Dipt Dian thrilled with her shrinking knees
To a dark wood well, deeper than woodland, set
Down silver grasses and small ferns pale with youth.
There are gold grapes whose contact we forget
Which leave an odourous mouth.
For touch is the spirit and rule of all;
When the heart awakens and eyelids fall,
Exquisite lashes on creeping cheeks are sign
Of the obscure ways in which used flesh grows fine.
The touch of brushes, the touch of strings and keys
With a crystal core that outward and inward slips,
Even music's interstellar silences,
Are but prolonged far-reaching finger-tips:
The touch of moonlight
Felt through noon-light,
The touch of mirrors upon the eyes,
Of mirroring water in a silver bowl,
The sense of being silked in dyes
For which a Venice merchant changed his soul,
Large expanses
Of seaward glances
Where the unseen world is felt by the sea's long roll;
Such are its inward kingdom, each a hid device
By which the heart of things touches to guide and fire --
Touch with the palate; touch with the nostrils; touch with the eyes:
Touch with the reins and yearning; touch with desire.

Love is every diverse way of it.
When the man beholds the woman a far touch slips
(Like cold still wines
Sipped to feel their sense of lines)
Luminously, unlit,
As under ocean's rims a star at dawn
To light hid waves; the touch of lips
Divines position of body's and soul's degrees.
If death has drawn
One lover from another ere old peace,
The scars of what she once had said
Touch him, as though with growth discomforted.
Touch is understanding by relation,
Touch is sympathy and so creation.

The rose-dead ruins beyond the sky
Shelter its alien heart at night
And move me to reach again to the never nigh;
The sleepless quietude of remote hills,
Whose aery waiting is alert with touch,
Sets clearer light
Along their crest before the heavens begin --
A light of earth the heavens within,
That makes an interspace and fills
As when man's soul for his body is overmuch.

Shall we await for ever the ecstasy,
Wait, wait for ever and know we shall not know?
O dusky cream of cherry bloom just high,
There was one such touch as yours from bough to bough,
Hovering a little underneath
Yet almost about to lift in an unseen breath,
When in an early twilight of early May
We listened for one blackbird far away,
Precision of passion, the touch of a voice
On night, on our choice
Of hopeless retreating things for our joys.
Then ere a soundless dawn of early May
We listened as we lay
For the premonition of light in the wave of the wakening birds.
Not physical touch in Chopin satisfied
Encloses the heart and girds;
And when I reach my arms in pride
I reach my hands in vain;
I take them back, until by yearning and pain
Contact comes and knowledge in the extent
Of all senses magnificent.





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