If but a wish could bring you to my arms

If but a wish could bring you to my arms ,
My honour would not bear
Without your free consent to wish you there :
If your consent were given .
Then without need to wish I were in heaven .
Why do I then repine
That I have not the power to wish you mine ?

If but a dream could make your love my own ,
I would not stoop so low
Without your knowledge to possess you so :
If once my dream you knew ,
Then without need to dream my dream were true .
Why do I then repine
That I have not the power to dream you mine ?

If but a call to me would pass your lips ,
My honour would allow
Without more thought that you should call me now :
If you would think one word
Then without need to call you should be heard :
Why else do I repine
That I have not the power to call you mine ?

22 May 1954

I would have you dead , I would have this summer over

I would have you dead , I would have this summer over ,
Dear, I would have you dead ;
I would have these days picked freshly , gently spread
Petal by scented petal , parched in the sun ,
Stored in a jar to conjure spring for ever …
These nights stripped from our bed ,
Washed , bleached , laid by in homely lavender ,
To wrap my tired mind when all is done .
How can I weave your immortality
While still by living you distract my hand
Mock the neat web I planned ,
Break warp and pucker woof thus shamelessly ?
If you would live to all eternity ,
Now is the time to die .

Thus with paradox , a pleasant sigh ,
I bolster my conceit — and there you stand ,
Laughing , with no reply .

[ 3 crossed out and 4 written above (!) sic ]
14 May 1953

Infinity , eternity —

Infinity , eternity —
Words on the wind that wails through space and time ,
Chilling the heart upon his little jaunt
Cradle to tomb .
Wrap warm , small heart , jog along pettily ,
At every inn dismount to ask your road ,
Laze there an hour , wrap warm and onward ride :
Too brief an hour , too cramped a living-room
For you to meet and mirror in one rhyme
The lonely shapes , the essences that haunt
Eternity , infinity .

Eternity , infinity ,
Whisper compassion when a mortal mind
Bereaved along the way shrinks time and space
To one green mound :
“Fond man , if love was life , life ecstasy ,
Mourn not the loved and lost : all is secure —
Not to be dead is death , but not to care .
Snatch joy from living till the lost be found
Who shall be found indeed , whom you shall find
Safe in the love of him whose arms embrace
Infinity , eternity . ”

29 January 1954

I dreamt you lay in a green lime-tree’s shade

Greensleeves

I dreamt you lay in a green lime-tree’s shade
And heard an old tune playing : gentle , wise ,
You listened with a smile — when memory dies
This dream with love and life itself shall fade :
Would it were dream that you are softly laid
Beneath that lime-tree now , and may not rise
To welcome me with laughter in your eyes
As once you did .
The unseen minstrels played
( Mocking my faint heart even in the dream )
My Lady Greensleeves : doubting love , I sought
To seal my heart from echoes of the song ,
( Which now too late has mastered me ) ; to seem
Aloof and fancy-free : for so , I thought ,
I could forget to love you . I was wrong .

14th September 1952

[On the same sheet as When grief is weary and white flowers droop on your grave ]

In the rain when I paint this bay I shall place no black on my canvas

In the rain when I paint this bay I shall place no black on my canvas,

For black there is none in the great sweep of the bay:

There are lines of white at the surf-edge, and flashes of white for sea-birds,

But the sea and the land alike are in tones of grey:

Smoky-pale gloss grey, thick and dusky matt grey,
Olive-grey, ash-grey and sleek wet rat grey —
Show me what you see here, and I will show you that grey.
At the last when I paint my life I shall lay no white on the canvas,

For white there is none in the whole sweep of the way:

There are black years in the background, and black fears on the sky-line,

But I move at the best between them through moods of grey:

Smudge grey, glint grey, marble smooth and flat grey,
Dove-grey, wolf-grey, silky silver cat grey —
Show me what you see here, and I will show you that grey.
But today I shall paint this day without black or white on my canvas,

I shall set my palette with never a shade of grey:

From the high arch of the rainbow to the sun-blaze on the wave-bed,

The fresh clear colours of light have flooded the day:

Glimmer green, shimmer blue, break of April day tints,
Fixed flame and running gold, sunset on the bay tints,
Till today is yesterday we dare forget the grey tints.
I got this from Marion on April 24th 1977; and I read it at her funeral. J.S.