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A Clasp Of Hands

Algernon Charles Swinburne 1837 (London) – 1909 (London)

SOFT, small, and sweet as sunniest flowers
  That bask in heavenly heat
When bud by bud breaks, breathes, and cowers,
  Soft, small, and sweet.

A babe's hands open as to greet
  The tender touch of ours
And mock with motion faint and fleet

The minutes of the new strange hours
  That earth, not heaven, must mete;
Buds fragrant still from heaven's own bowers,
  Soft, small, and sweet.

A velvet vice with springs of steel
  That fasten in a trice
And clench the fingers fast that feel
  A velvet viceÑ

What man would risk the danger twice,
  Nor quake from head to heel?
Whom would not one such test suffice?

Well may we tremble as we kneel
  In sight of Paradise,
If both a babe's closed fists conceal
  A velvet vice.

Two flower-soft fists of conquering clutch,
  Two creased and dimpled wrists,
That match, if mottled overmuch,
  Two flower-soft fists---

What heart of man dare hold the lists
  Against such odds and such
Sweet vantage as no strength resists?

Our strength is all a broken crutch,
  Our eyes are dim with mists,
Our hearts are prisoners as we touch
  Two flower-soft fists.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Algernon Charles Swinburne

Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He wrote several novels and collections of poetry such as Poems and Ballads, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Swinburne wrote about many taboo topics, such as lesbianism, cannibalism, sado-masochism, and anti-theism. His poems have many common motifs, such as the ocean, time, and death. Several historical people are featured in his poems, such as Sappho ("Sapphics"), Anactoria ("Anactoria"), Jesus ("Hymn to Proserpine": Galilaee, La. "Galilean") and Catullus ("To Catullus"). more…

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    "A Clasp Of Hands" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/1235/a-clasp-of-hands>.

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