Richard Le Gallienne

(1866-1947 / England)

Love Platonic - Poem by Richard Le Gallienne


Surely at last, O Lady, the sweet moon
That bringeth in the happy singing weather
Groweth to pearly queendom, and full soon
Shall Love and Song go hand in hand together;
For all the pain that all too long hath waited
In deep dumb darkness shall have speech at last,
And the bright babe Death gave the Love he mated
Shall leap to light and kiss the weeping past.

For all the silver morning is a-glimmer
With gleaming spears of great Apollo's host,
And the night fadeth like a spent out swimmer
Hurled from the headlands of some shining coast.
O, happy soul, thy mouth at last is singing,
Drunken with wine of morning's azure deep,
Sing on, my soul, the world beneath thee swinging,
A bough of song above a sea of sleep.

Who is the lady I sing?
Ah, how can I tell thee her praise
For whom all my life's but the string
Of a rosary painful of days;

Which I count with a curious smile
As a miser who hoardeth his gain,
Though, a madhearted spendthrift the while,
I but gather to waste again.

Yea, I pluck from the tree of the years,
As a country maid greedy of flowers,
Each day brimming over with tears,
And I scatter like petals its hours;

And I trample them under my feet
In a frenzy of cloven-hoofed swine,
And the breath of their dying is sweet,
And the blood of their hearts is as wine.

O, I throw me low down on the ground
And I bury my face in their death,
And only I rise at the sound
Of a wind as it scattereth,

As it scattereth sweetly the dried
Leaves withered and brittle and sere
Of days of old years that have died-
And, O, it is sweet in my ear

And I rise me and build me a pyre
Of the whispering skeleton things,
And my heart laugheth low with the fire,
Laugheth high with the flame as it springs;

And above in the flickering glare
I mark me the boughs of my tree,
My tree of the years, growing bare.
Growing bare with the scant days to be.

Then I turn to my beads and I pray
For the axe at the root of the tree-
Last flower, last bead-ah! last day
That shall part me, my darling, from thee!

And I pray for the knife on the string
Of this rosary painful of days:
But who is the Lady I sing?
Ah, how can I tell thee her praise!


I make this rhyme of my lady and me
To give me ease of my misery,
Of my lady and me I make this rhyme
For lovers in the after-time.
And I weave its warp from day to day
In a golden loom deep hid away
In my secret heart, where no one goes
But my lady's self, and-no one knows.

With bended head all day I pore
On a joyless task, and yet before
My eyes all day, through each weary hour,
Breathes my lady's face like a dewy flower.
Like rain it comes through the dusty air,
Like sun on the meadows to think of her;
O sweet as violets in early spring
The flower-girls to the city bring,
O, healing-bright to wintry eyes
As primrose-gold 'neath northern skies-
But O for fit thing to compare
With the joy I have in the thought of her!
So all day long doth her holy face
Bring fragrance to the barren place,
And whensoe'er it comes nearest me,
My loom it weaveth busily.

Some days there be when the loom is still
And my soul is sad as an autumn hill,
But how to tell the blessed time
When my heart is one glowing prayer of rhyme!
Think on the humming afternoon
Within some busy wood in June,
When nettle patches, drunk with the sun,
Are fiery outposts of the shade;
While gnats keep up a dizzy reel,
And the grasshopper, perched upon his blade,
Loud drones his fairy threshing-wheel:-
Hour when some poet-wit might feign
The drowsy tune of the throbbing air
The weaving of the gossamer
In secret nooks of wood and lane-
The gossamer, silk night-robes of the flowers,
Fluttered apart by amorous morning hours.
Yea, as the weaving of the gossamer,
If truly that the mystic golden boom,
Is the strange rapture of my hidden loom,
As I sit in the light of the thought of her;
And it weaveth, weaveth, day by day,
This parti-coloured roundelay;
Weaving for ease of misery,
Weaving this rhyme of my lady and me,
Weaving, weaving this warp of rhyme
For lovers in the after-time.

My lady, lover, may never be mine
In the same sweet way that thine is thine,
My lady and I may never stand
By the holy altar hand in hand,
My lady and I may never rest
Through the golden midnight breast to breast,
Nor share long days of happy light
Sweet moving in each other's sight:
Yea, even must we ever miss
The honey of the chastest kiss.


But, Song, arise thee on a greater wing,
Nor twitter robin-like of love, nor sing
A pretty dalliance with grief-but try
Some metre like a sky,
Wherein to set
Stars that may linger yet
When I, thy master, shall have come to die.
Twitter and tweet
Thy carollings
Of little things,
Of fair and sweet;
For it is meet,
O robin red!
That little theme
Hath little song,
That little head
Hath little dream,
And long.
But we have starry business, such a grief
As Autumn's, dead by some forgotten sheaf,
While all the distance echoes of the wain;
Grief as an ocean's for some sudden isle
Of living green that stayed with it a while,
Then to oblivious deluge plunged again!
Grief as of Alps that yearn but never reach,
Grief as of Death for Life, of Night for Day:
Such grief, O Song, how hast thou strength to teach,
How hope to make assay?

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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