“Again the cursed cry: ‘What quest is this?
Is it worth heaven in thy lover’s kiss?
A queen, a queen, to kiss and never tire!
Thy queen, quick-breathing for your twin desire!’
I shudder, for the mystery of bliss;
I go, heart crying and a soul on fire!” [via]
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- “The king did start, Gripped my strong hands, and held me to his heart, And could not speak a moment. Then he set A curb of sorrow and subdued its dart. ‘Go! and the blessing of high God attend Thy path, and lead thee to the doubtful end. No tongue that secret ever may reveal. Thy soul is god-like and thy frame is steel; Thou mayst win the quest–the king, thy friend, Gives thee his sword to keep thee–Gereth, kneel! ‘I dub thee Earl; arise!’ And then there rings The queen’s voice: ‘Shall my love not match the king’s? Here, from my finger drawn, this gem of power Shall guard thee in some unimagined hour. It hath strange virtue over mortal things. I freely give it for thy stirrup’s dower.’ I left the presence. Now the buffeting wind Gladdens my face–I leave the court behind. Am I Stark mad? My face grows grim and grave; I see–O Mary Mother, speak and save! I stare and stare until mine eyes are blind– There was no jewel in the ring she gave!”
- “The king was silent. None of us would stir. I sat, struck dumb, a living sepulchre. For–hear me! in my heart this thing became My sacrament, my pentecostal flame. And with it grew a fear–a fear of Her. What Her? Shame had not found itself a name. Simply I knew it in myself. I brood Ten years–so seemed it–O! the bitter food In my mouth nauseate! In the silent hall One might have heard God’s sparrow in its fall. But I was lost in mine own solitude– I should not hear Mikhael’s trumpet-call. Yet there did grow a clamour shrill and loud: One cursed, one crossed himself, another vowed His soul against the quest; the tumult ran Indecorous in that presence, man to man. Stilled suddenly, beholding how I bowed My soul in thought: another cry began. ‘Gereth the dauntless! Gereth of the Sea! Gereth the loyal! Child of royalty! witch-mothered Gereth! Sword above the strong, heart pure, head many-wiled!’ The knightly throng Clamour my name, and flattering words, to me– If they may ‘scape the quest–I do them wrong; They are my friends! Yet something terrible Rings in the manly music that they swell. They are all caught in this immense desire Deeper than heaven, tameless as the fire. All catch the fear–the fear of Her–as well, And dare not–even afraid, I must aspire.”
- “Rise, sisters, who have ignorantly striven On pale pure limbs to pasture your desire, Who should have fixed your souls on highest Heaven, And satiated your longings in that fire, And struck that mightier lyre!”
- “But raise no head; I know thee, breast and thigh, Lips, hair and eyes and mouth: I will not die But thou come with me o’er the gate of death. So, blood and body furious with breath That pants through foaming kisses, let us stay Gripped hard together to keep life away, Mouths drowned in murder, never satiate, Kissing away the hard decrees of Fate, Kissing insatiable in mad desire Kisses whose agony may never tire, Kissing the gates of hell, the sword of God, Each unto each a serpent or a rod, A well of wine and fire, each unto each, Whose lips are fain convulsively to reach A higher heaven, a deeper hell.”
- “Then, one immaculate divinest whole, Plunge, fire, within all fire, dive far to death; Till, like king Satan’s sympathetic breath, Burn on us as a voice from far above Strange nameless elements of fire and love; And we, one mouth to kiss, one soul to lure, For ever, wedded, one, divine, endure Far from sun, sea, and spring from love or light, Imbedded in impenetrable night; Deeper than ocean, higher than the sky, Vaster than petty loves that dream and die, Insatiate, angry, terrible for lust, Who shrivel God to adamantine dust By our fierce gaze upon him, who would strive Under our wrath, to flee away, to dive Into the deep recesses of his heaven.”