Freedoms - Poem by Gerald Gould
Those were our freedoms, and we come to this:
The climbing road that lures the climbing feet
Is lost: there lies no mist above the wheat,
Where-thro' to glimpse the silver precipice,
Far off, about whose base the white seas hiss
In spray; the world grows narrow and complete;
We have lost our perils in the certain sweet;
We have sold our great horizon for a kiss.
To every hill there is a lowly slope,
But some have heights beyond all height--so high
They make new worlds for the adventuring eye.
We for achievement have forgone our hope,
And shall not see another morning ope,
Nor the new moon come into the new sky.
Where is our freedom sought, and where to seek?
The voices of the various world agree
The future's ours: to hope is to be free:
Only to doubt, to fear, is to be weak.
Have you not felt upon your calm clear cheek
The kiss of the bright wind of liberty?
What more is there to ask, what more to be?
Peace, peace, my soul, and let the silence speak!
To hope is to be free? Nay, hope's a slave
To every chance; hope is the same as fear;
Hope trembles at the wind, the star, the wave,
The voice, the mood, the music; hope stands near
The chilly threshold of the waiting grave,
And when the silence speaks, hope does not hear.
In the old days came freedom with a sword.
Ev'n so; but also freedom came with wings
Fanning the faint and purple bloom that clings
To the great twilight where our dreams are stored.
Freedom was what the waters would afford
That yet obeyed the white moon's whisperings,
And freedom leapt and listened in the strings
Of dulcimer and lute and clavichord.
In the old days? But those old days are now.
O merciful, O bright, O valiant brow,
Can you seek freedom that way and I this?
Not in the single note is music free,
But where creation's climbing fires agree
In multitudes, in nights, in silences.
Shall we mark off our little patch of power
From time's compulsive process? Shall we sit
With memory, warming our weak hands at it,
And say: 'So be it; we have had one hour'?
Surely the mountains are a better dower,
With their dark scope and cloudy infinite,
Than small perfection, trivial exquisite;
'Mid all that dark the brightness of a flower!
Lovers are not themselves: they are more, they are all:
For them are past and future spread together
Like a green landscape lit by golden weather:
For them the rhythmic change conjectural
Of time and place is but the question whether
Their God shall stand (as stand he must) or fall.
O cold remembrance, careful-careless kiss,
That does not wake to hope with waking day,
And at the hour of bed-time does not say:
'That was for rapture, that for peace, but this
Burns for the night's more terrible auspices,
And pangs and sweets of doubt and disarray!'--
Yet in one kiss two hearts found once the way
From perfect ignorance to perfect bliss.
Love has so many voices, low and high.
Such range of reason, such delight of rhyme!
Yet when I asked love such a simple thing
As why the autumn comes where came the spring,
The only soul that answered me was I,
And love was silent then for the first time.
Our love is hurt, and the bad world goes on
Moving to its conclusion: in a year
This corn now reaped will come again to ear,
The moon will shine as last night the moon shone;
The tide, whose thought is the moon's thought, will don
The silver livery of subjection. Dear,
Is it not strange that hearts will hope and fear
And break, when our hearts, broken now, are gone?
If this were true, life's movement would rebel,
And curdle to its source, as blood to the heart
When the cold fires of indignation start
From their obscure lair in the body.--Well,
If for us two to part were just to part
All years would have one pointless tale to tell.
The little things, the little restless things,
The base and barren things, the things that spite
The day, and trail processions through the night
Of sad remembrances and questionings;
The poverties, stupidities and stings,
The silted misery, the hovering blight;
The things that block the paths of sound and sight;
The things that snare our thought and break its wings--
How shall we bear these?--we who suffer so
The shattering sacrifice, the huge despair,
The terrors loosed like lightnings on the air,
To leave all nature blackened from that curse!
The big things are the enemies we know,
The little things the traitors. Which are worse?
Now must we gather up and comprehend
The volume of vicissitude, and take
Account of loving, for each other's sake,
And ask how love began and how will end
(If there be any end of love, O friend
Of my worst hours and best desires!)--and stake
Our all upon the sweetness and the ache
Of what men's stories and God's stars intend.
You have my all: you are my all: you give,
Out of your bounty and content of soul,
The only strength that makes me fit to live--
Since earth of spirit takes such heavy toll:
Yet I, the weak, the faint, the fugitive,
Stand here, an equal part of the great whole.
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