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Laus Virginitatis

Arthur Symons 1865 (Milford Haven) – 1945

The mirror of men's eyes delights me less,
O mirror, than the friend I find in thee;
Thou lovest, as I love, my loveliness,
Thou givest my beauty back to me.
 
I to myself suffice; why should I tire
The heart with roaming that would rest at home?
Myself the limit to my own desire,
I have no desire to roam.
 
I hear the maidens crying in the hills:
'Come up among the bleak and perilous ways,
Come up and follow after Love, who fills
The hollows of our nights and days;
 
'Love the deliverer, who is desolate,
And saves from desolation; the divine
Out of great suffering; Love, compassionate,
Who is thy bread and wine,
 
'O soul, that faints in following after him.'
I hear; but what is Love that I should tread
Hard ways among the perilous passes dim,
Who need no succouring wine and bread?
 
Enough it is to dream, enough to abide
Here where the loud world's echoes fall remote,
Untroubled, unawakened, satisfied;
As water-lilies float
 
Lonely upon a shadow-sheltered pool,
Dreaming of their own whiteness; even so,
I dwell within a nest of shadows cool,
And watch the vague hours come and go.
 
They come and go, but I my own delight
Remain, and I desire no change in aught:
Might I escape indifferent Time's despite,
That ruins all he wrought!
 
This dainty body formed so curiously,
So delicately and wonderfully made,
Mine own, that none hath ever shared with me,
Mine own, and for myself arrayed;
 
All this that I have loved and not another,
My one desire's delight, this, shall Time bring
Where Beauty hath the abhorred worm for brother,
The dust for covering?
 
At least I bear it virgin to the grave,
Pure, and apart, and rare, and casketed;
What, living, was mine own and no man's slave,
Shall be mine own when I am dead.
 
But thou, my friend, my mirror, dost possess
The shadow of myself that smiles in thee,
And thou dost give, with thine own loveliness,
My beauty back to me.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Arthur Symons

Arthur William Symons, was a British poet, critic and magazine editor. more…

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