Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ABISHAG, by GORDON BOTTOMLEY



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ABISHAG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My lord, your servants sought me and I came
Last Line: Is this way slowly easier? It is well.
Subject(s): Abishag (Bible); Women In The Bible


MY lord, your servants sought me and I came
With reverence turned to pleading in my heart;
For my tall sisters chid me for a child
To cherish an old man and an impotent.
They said "Old men are cruel when they learn
How feebleness has left them only thoughts --
Ah, they are cruel and very merciless
Unto the helpless teacher in their arms.
Stay, or you lose the birthright of our kind;
The young men only seek virginity."
But I said then "He is well loved of God,
And age being thoughtful is made pitiful:
Lovely and young-browed queens were his in vain,
They could not save him from this lowly need;
So, surely, in his lonely heights shall thoughts
Of Michal and Bathsheba make him kind."...
Ah, lord, forgive me and do not hide your head;
I will not whisper that first name again.
One day last year my slave brought me her child,
A very little baby that looked so dead
It never could be wakened any more....
Dread lord, how have I hurt you with my words?
I would but tell you how I cried in bed
And clasped it to me all the waking night
Till with the dawn I felt it live again; --
Turn from me, lord; I am frightened of your eyes --
So by such strength of cool compassionate love
I thought, I hope to rise to your deep need
Till maidenly, unmaidenly, are words
I shall not need nor understand again.
I know I am to be used and put aside,
But that is all I ask; I could not live
To think you loved me for my yielding thus.
Consider that God sent you to be served,
And I am made for service and no more;
Then, being spent, I shall go home again,
While kindness will just leave you to forget
A thing God's purpose used and put aside.
And I will never boast of doing right.
So calm I come, grey father of us all,
A daughter to my duty manifest,
A mother in affection and hushed care.
O cold, cold, cold, thin feet and face and hands....
Now lift your head a little to my arm;
Is this way slowly easier? It is well.





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