Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SISTER TO SISTER, by GORDON BOTTOMLEY



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SISTER TO SISTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Scarce can I see your golden head
Last Line: His arms about you, sister.
Subject(s): Sisters


SCARCE can I see your golden head
Or the white square pillow where it is laid:
Make room for me within your bed,
I am cold alone, sister.

The frost has pierced me through and through;
The bony arms of the dry trees grue;
The moon and stars seem frozen too;
And my bed is cold, sister.

I am half numbed and slow in approach;
Your warm flesh shrinks at my limbs' touch:
Shrink not from me overmuch,
Softly pulsing sister.

I have been across the meadow-land
To the garth where two hoar chapels stand.
I plied a spade; upon each hand
Swells a mattock-blister.

There's a new hole in that graveyard;
The mould a-side is freezing hard.
It will be cold beneath the sward,
Darling sister.

Why did you take my love from me?
Did you wither my face by sorcery,
Then laugh with him at my misery,
Staring, wondering sister?

I am dark and you are fair;
Thin and ragged is my hair.
"One is foul and one is fair"
Said our lover, sister.

See, I hug a little knife,
Cold against my hot heart's strife.
It is as broad and long as your life.
The frightened maid has kissed her --

Her whom she betrayed and bowed.
A night-sark makes a bonny shroud.
If my knee hurts you, cry aloud;
You are not dreaming, sister.

My hold is too firm in your tumbled hair;
I draw your glimmering head back. There,
I have found the place: I will use care.
Now the dead-throes twist her.

I smooth your long locks over all --
Beauty must have a golden pall;
Life lingers in them, they slide and crawl
Away from my fingers, sister.

Come to my arms and take your rest;
Your tender head is fitly placed
Against your only sister's breast.
How still your bosom is, sister.

We creep darkling down the stair.
Its chill strikes up, for my feet are bare;
But it is not the chill in your feet so fair,
Sleepy, silent sister.

The middle of the night is past;
Day breathes; the moon-spy, bloodless-faced,
Slips down the sky: let us make haste
To your new room, sister.

The stir of wind before the dawn
Whispers across the sparkling lawn.
'Tis the churchyard gate I rest you on --
I too am tired, sister.

Your mouth opens, yet there's no sound
As you sink into the deep-dug ground:
The mould falls on you: a hardening mound
Arches over you, sister.

Do you hide beneath from the dead folk's lear,
As a child creeps under the sheets for fear?
I wish our love were with you here,
His arms about you, sister.





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