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A Midday Winter Dream: Departure 9
“I gazed through frosted windows on
A pure and fleshless world
Of darkened purple velvet skies
Where weightless snowflakes swirled.
“Beneath the wine-dark canopy,
The forest and the lea
A regal coat of ermine wore
In stately majesty.
“The frost upon the windowpane
Waxed denser as I breathed
And formed an opaque dressing on
The snowscape that it wreathed.
“Yet gazing through the window, which
My frosted breath encased,
My wakeful and unconscious eyes
A phantom interfaced.
“I ceded eye to reverie
And so was led astray
Then fell within delusion’s grasp
And so was swept away.
“Then, dream-wrought, perfect tableaux of
Mine inner eye with imprints rinsed
With amber-tinted hues.
“The houses of the Beguinage
Emitted peach-tone glows
And seemed as embers strewn across
A bed of powdered snow.
“I entered soft’ the chapel hall,
Where frozen beguines glowed
In silken nightgowns whiter than
The snow that chokes a rose.
“My childhood friend, Sœur Agnes, came
And led me by the hand
To kneel before the altar, where
She placed a sacred band.
“Though hidden like the Blood of Christ
Beneath a chalice pall,
I felt a presence permeate
The Beguinage’s hall.
“The beghard’s scarlet image from
A shadow’s shadow rose
And handed me the cherished verse
Thy precious hands composed.
“Mine eyes were filled with words of love
My heart already knew
Ere came a crimson speck to life
That singed the parchment’s hue.
“The tiny ember crept across
The poem’s face, and then
It cast a flaming tongue that licked
The verse thy hand had penned.
“In tears, I watched thy poem burn
And crumple whilst I cringed
But held it tightly, tenderly,
Until my hands were singed.
“The ashes fell apart to dust
That wafted on the air
Then settled soft’ about the floor,
Where Agnes wept a prayer.
“Astonished and with trembling heart,
I sought the beghard’s face
But found, instead, perfection’s seed
Implanted in its place.
“The scarlet Frère’s minacious, haunting
Face had been transformed
By means I couldn’t cypher to
A face thy cast adorned.
“On gazing on the glow about
Thy face, which I imbibed,
I found myself enraptured as
It pulsed upon mine eyes.
“In oscillating waves of warmth,
The rhythm of the glow,
My veins and sinews gently coursed
Sublime of beat and flow.
“The penetrating, pulsing warmth
Intensified to heat,
Which didn’t burn yet melted what
I took to be discrete.
“The waves of warmth began to throb
With escalating pace,
Then primal passion seized my heart,
Which lost a beat, then raced.
“The heat began to tingle, then
I sparkled deep inside,
Awash in waves of joy I prayed
Would ever more abide.
“I gloried in sensations that
Transcended mortal planes
Then swayed on swells of ecstasy
That joy could not contain.
“I closed mine eye to focus on
Sensations never felt
Then suffered sweet convulsions when
My soul began to melt.
“It melted in the essence of
The warmth that I perceived
Then lost itself forever in
The unity conceived.
“Exhausted but exultant, sweetly
Wrapped inside a charm,
I sighed then swooned and fell within
The haven of thine arms.
“I listened to my heartbeat soften
Down from pulsing quakes,
And when it murmured peacefully,
Thou kissed mine eyes awake.
“I looked and saw that God had placed
The ring upon my hand
Before His Presence vanished to
A promised sacred land.
“I lingered in the blissful dream
For hope’s ambitious sake
Till Vesper hour arose and nudged
My faculties awake.
“I read within the fantasy
Divinely crafted means
Of prompting me to heed the beghard’s
Summons—so it seemed.
“I tied on saffron stockings with
The garters I had dyed
The color of a robin’s egg
And saved to be thy bride.
“I donned a chartreuse linen cotte
Above the silk chemise
Then fitted on a coral gown
And sable-lined pelisse.
“The downy fur caressed my flesh,
Which swelled against the rush,
And raised a quilt of gooseflesh on
The nerve stems that it brushed.
“I hurried through the Vespers Psalms,
Then fixed the scarlet candle in
A silver lantern’s slot.
“I glided down the darkened stairs
Then crossed the hearthside glow
Then flushed, as if by fever, I
Emerged in winter’s cold.
Excerpted from Adèle and Gilbert © 2022
About this poem
The poetry in the post is an excerpt taken from a long narrative poem titled Adèle and Gilbert. The poem is a work of historical fiction set in gothic France. The narrative involves two young loves who were separated by circumstance. Each having reason to believe the other dead, over the course of twenty years, they travel separate pathways to a chance reunion on the doorsteps of a church in an obscure village. In a series of confessions, Adèle and Gilbert depict the calamities that befell them during their travels. Afterward, they unite to confront a specter risen from Adèle’s past. The poem is preceded by a prose introduction in which a fictitious super narrator provides the poem’s fictional provenance and other information pertinent to the poem. In the passage provided, Adele recounts what occurred shortly after she received erroneous news of Gilbert’s death while he was away on crusade, as quoted by Gilbert. References are made to a poem Gilbert gave her before leaving and to a scarlet-clad beghard who, earlier on the morning she is recounting, invited her to attend him at the beguinage later the same night. more »
Submitted by carton78 on October 29, 2022
- 4:04 min read
- 1,174 Views
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"Poetry.com" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 21 Mar. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/>.
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