Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WHITE WATCH (OPUS JUVENIS), by GORDON BOTTOMLEY



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THE WHITE WATCH (OPUS JUVENIS), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I do not know how I came here
Last Line: And love in the dark, my love and I.


I DO not know how I came here
In a dark daze of joyous fear.
My love leaned from his window high
To pluck tall flower-spikes from the sky;
Instead my hands upraised he seized --
In hidden love that must be eased
Down the warm midnight I stood mute
And still as the heavy garden fruit;
The bloom, he thought, was midnight-hued;
And ere he knew my hands cool-dewed
Yielded no flutter of purple perfume
We felt we clasped in the Lovers' Room.

We cannot find the windy stair
Though the leaden gate sounds everywhere,
And if we knew we dare not dare;
While no road hollows the mist that drips
O'er the Unknown Tower, the far fen's lips.
The windows let no earth-light through,
Though some feel green and some feel blue;
Yet when we move there seems to shake
The light that lovers always make,
And ever we hear (night-rain in Spring)
The other lovers whispering.

But three nights when the moon is young
And the last kiss kissed and the last song sung
Its dead light huelessly here is flung,
Shewing the lovers through sleep-white haze
Body to body and face to face
About the altar like a bed
Whereon love's offerings are laid.
Then I creep from my lover asleep on the floor
And open the little ambry door,
And lift the dulcimer under our store;
And into the Hidden Land look down
On Queen Ettard sitting under her crown
That hangs above in the apple tree.
Her throne is the moon-white ivory;
Her close skirts seem blue water-rings,
Her long sleeves tangles of flickering wings
As her bright feet rest on the orchard sward,
The mother of mysteries Queen Ettard....
O me, now, now I shall hear made clear
Her muffled song that we always fear.

"I know not anywhere,
I wakened in this chair,
Thick moths creep in my hair;
Yet when I lift mine eyes
Some stars may die like flies,
Some men grow darkly wise;
And if one flower I spurn
Old hearts and cities burn
In a mad overturn.
I am so tired of thought,
Ages I have forgot
Ere one dew-drip could clot...."

While she sings in her sleep I will stoop down so
And pluck an apple halcyon-blue
Where nigh me upstarts a laden bough.
As I bite the fruit I can hear through seas
The dreams of the lovers grow like trees,
Tall and drooping as though they are palled:
The apple's core is an emerald
Alive with light whereby are seen
The kisses in blue of the lovers in green
Aloft in the casements' jewellings
Ne'er shewn before, from the unknown king's:
Ah, here is a lamp for all our days.
And slumbering Signy's drowned dream says
"Dear God, uplift your trailing skirts
And lean Your breast to our world-hurts
And hide us two in Your long soft beard...."
Then tossing Sagramore's dream is heard
"God and the Virgin in a field,
Casting one shadow, in shoes gold-heeled
Running like lovers, hand in hand...."
While dreams Joyeuse "The Hidden Land
Is wading-deep in hovering birds,
So don blue gowns that the silver girds...."

'Tis now I lean at my love's side
To listen how his dreams slide
"Am I lonely again? Ah, love, I am here;
Touch me but once, make the darkness clear,
And never leave the Lovers' Room...."
Dear heart, I come; dear life, I come.
I must run to the little ambry door,
Lift up the dulcimer,
Drop the emerald
Down-flashing softly once more
To the Hidden Land's corn-muffled shore --
Softly, not to tell that Queen
The thrill has gone from her secrets green;
For, though in its light we should be seen
Like lovers beatified to move,
The other lovers would watch us love,
And Heaven is nearer when lone we lie
And love in the dark, my love and I.





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