Poem of the day

To the Body
by Coventry Patmore (1823-1896)

Creation’s and Creator’s crowning good;
Wall of infinitude;
Foundation of the sky,
In Heaven forecast
And long’d for from eternity,
Though laid the last;
Reverberating dome,
Of music cunningly built home
Against the void and indolent disgrace
Of unresponsive space;
Little, sequester’d pleasure-house
For God and for His Spouse;
Elaborately, yea, past conceiving, fair,
Since, from the graced decorum of the hair,
Ev’n to the tingling, sweet
Soles of the simple, earth-confiding feet,
And from the inmost heart
Outwards unto the thin
Silk curtains of the skin,
Every least part
Astonish’d hears
And sweet replies to some like region of the spheres;
Form’d for a dignity prophets but darkly name,
Lest shameless men cry “Shame!”
So rich with wealth conceal’d
That Heaven and Hell fight chiefly for this field;
Clinging to everything that pleases thee
With indefectible fidelity;
Alas, so true
To all thy friendships that no grace
Thee from thy sin can wholly disembrace;
Which thus ‘bides with thee as the Jebusite,
That, maugre all God’s promises could do,
The chosen People never conquer’d quite,
Who therefore lived with them,
And that by formal truce and as of right,
In metropolitan Jerusalem,
For which false fealty
Thou needs must, for a season, lie
In the grave’s arms, foul and unshriven,
Albeit, in Heaven,
Thy; crimson-throbbing Glow
Into its old abode aye pants to go,
And does with envy see
Enoch, Elijah, and the Lady, she
Who left the lilies in her body’s lieu.
O, if the pleasures I have known in thee
But my poor faith’s poor first-fruits be,
What quintessential, keen, ethereal bliss
Then shall be his
Who has thy birth-time’s consecrating dew
For death’s sweet chrism retain’d,
Quick, tender, virginal, and unprofaned!

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