What Survives

Who says that all must vanish?
Who knows, perhaps the flight
of the bird you wound remains,
and perhaps flowers survive
caresses in us, in their ground.

It isn't the gesture that lasts,
but it dresses you again in gold
armor --from breast to knees--
and the battle was so pure
an Angel wears it after you.


Translated by A. Poulin


What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us

We know who the killers are,
We have watched them strut before us
As proud as sick Mussolinis',
We have watched them strut before us
Compassionless and arrogant,
They paraded before us,
Like angels of death
Protected by the law.

It is now an open secret
Black people do not have
Chips on their shoulders,
They just have injustice on their backs
And justice on their minds,
And now we know that the road to liberty
Is as long as the road from slavery.

The death of Stephen Lawrence


Wednesday Before Easter

O Lord my God, do thou Thy holy will -
I will lie still -
I will not stir, lest I forsake Thine arm,
And break the charm
Which lulls me, clinging to my Father's breast,
In perfect rest.

Wild fancy, peace! thou must not me beguile
With thy false smile:
I know thy flatteries and thy cheating ways;
Be silent, Praise,
Blind guide with siren voice, and blinding all
That hear thy call.

Come, Self-devotion, high and pure,
Thoughts that in thankfulness endure,


Weary not of us, for we are very beautiful

Weary not of us, for we are very beautiful; it is out of very jealousy and proper pride that we entered the veil.
On the day when we cast of the body’s veil from the soul, you will see that we are the envy of despair of man and the Polestars.
Wash your face and become clean for beholding us, else remain afar, for we are beloveds of ourselves.
We are not that beauty who tomorrow will become a crone; till eternity we are young and heart-comforting and fair of stature.


We Meet at the Judgment and I Fear It Not

Though better men may fear that trumpet's warning,
I meet you, lady, on the Judgment morning,
With golden hope my spirit still adorning.


Our God who made you all so fair and sweet
Is three times gentle, and before his feet
Rejoicing I shall say:—"The girl you gave
Was my first Heaven, an angel bent to save.
Oh, God, her maker, if my ingrate breath
Is worth this rescue from the Second Death,
Perhaps her dear proud eyes grow gentler too
That scorned my graceless years and trophies few.


Wait till the Majesty of Death

171

Wait till the Majesty of Death
Invests so mean a brow!
Almost a powdered Footman
Might dare to touch it now!

Wait till in Everlasting Robes
That Democrat is dressed,
Then prate about "Preferment"—
And "Station," and the rest!

Around this quiet Courtier
Obsequious Angels wait!
Full royal is his Retinue!
Full purple is his state!

A Lord, might dare to lift the Hat
To such a Modest Clay
Since that My Lord, "the Lord of Lords"
Receives unblushingly!


Voyage to Cythera

Free as a bird and joyfully my heart
Soared up among the rigging, in and out;
Under a cloudless sky the ship rolled on
Like an angel drunk with brilliant sun.

"That dark, grim island there--which would that be?"
"Cythera," we're told, "the legendary isle
Old bachelors tell stories of and smile.
There's really not much to it, you can see."

O place of many a mystic sacrament!
Archaic Aphrodite's splendid shade
Lingers above your waters like a scent
Infusing spirits with an amorous mood.


VII

The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
Was caught up into love, and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole
God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,
And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
The names of country, heaven, are changed away
For where thou art or shalt be, there or here;


Vesta

O CHRIST of God! whose life and death
   Our own have reconciled,
Most quietly, most tenderly
   Take home thy star-named child!

Thy grace is in her patient eyes,
   Thy words are on her tongue;
The very silence round her seems
   As if the angels sung.

Her smile is as a listening child's
   Who hears its mother's call;
The lilies of Thy perfect peace
   About her pillow fall.

She leans from out our clinging arms
   To rest herself in Thine;


Visitation And Communion Of The Sick

O Youth and Joy, your airy tread
Too lightly springs by Sorrow's bed,
Your keen eye-glances are too bright,
Too restless for a sick man's sight.
Farewell; for one short life we part:
I rather woo the soothing art,
Which only souls in sufferings tried
Bear to their suffering brethren's side.

Where may we learn that gentle spell?
Mother of Martyrs, thou canst tell!
Thou, who didst watch thy dying Spouse
With pierced hands and bleeding brows,
Whose tears from age to age are shed


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