The Cul-De-Sac Poem by Jan Struther

The Cul-De-Sac

WHOSE love's a broad highway
That stretches boldly on
Before them all the day,
White and smooth in the sun-
These, if they will, may run.
For them there is no need
To curb the hotfoot speed
Of their delight, which draws them
On over dale and hill
And from each summit shows them
A landscape lovelier still.

But those whose love's no more
Than a blind alley-
A cul-de-sac
Which can have no other end
Than turning back
Or beating with bare hands
At a wall without a door-
These must go slowly.
These at a measured pace
Must walk,
And linger in one place
Often, to gaze and talk;
Even retrace
A yard or two, perhaps,
Their careful steps,
And take them over again.

Their eyes they must restrain
From seeking the far sky
And bend them to enjoy
The small delights which grow beneath their feet:
Veined, shining, curious pebbles
They must admire, and stoop
To finger the small cresses,
Stonecrops and cushioned mosses
That creep
Between the untrodden cobbles
Of that deserted street.

Gently, if they are wise,
From stage to stage progresses
The grave, time-honoured dance of their caresses.
Impetuous hands must bide
Their hour till hungry eyes
Be satisfied;
And from a finger's touch
They must distil as much
Sweetness and ravishment
As freer lovers find
In bodies intertwined.
They must eke out each kiss
With its own memory
And long foretasting of the next one's bliss:
For kisses treated so
Shall be less swift to grow
(Strange alchemy!) from butterfly to bee.

By such fond strategy,
Such passionate artifice,
They may a long while cheat
Themselves into content,
And not too deeply care
That Fate across the threshold of their street
Has scrawled 'No Thoroughfare.'

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