Silent the ruined home of silence stands [Netley Abbey]

Netley Abbey

Silent the ruined home of silence stands ,
All heaven for a roof , and every floor
Green paved with living grass :
The wind through arch and door
Shakes fragrance from each flower
That clings , defying hands ,
Where gold and crimson from the crannies flare :
Though the dear pomp of silk and incense pass ,
Here is sufficient grace .

Men saw God’s glory in a dream that found
Perfect expression , ecstasy in stone ,
Greatly , divinely right :
Proportion now alone
Proudly exempt from stain
Clamours without a sound
Till line and balanced curve all senses stun :
God’s glory knows no change , but we who fight
Can dream at no such rate .

The men whose strength and vision framed these walls
Sleep now within them , all their earthly store
Long prey to thieves , moth , rust :
Where candles burn no more
The twilight of one star
Through the dim chancel falls :
Come , love , though sweet is silence , we must stir —
Till all is dared , till our brief strength is dust ,
Seek , even here , no rest .

12 April 1953

Easter Bridal

Easter Bridal

Since there is no return ,
Only in love new courage may be taken :
Love , of himself scarce sure ,
Ardently insecure ,
Longing , but half afraid , his power to learn ,
Puts on eternity in golden token .
With candle , bell and book :
All else is now forsaken ;
There is no turning back .

Take courage , then , in love :
Only in love can life be worth the living ;
Love for that lover’s sake
Who all for love did make ,
Who leaving his own cherished home above ,
Put on mortality , and greatly loving .
With heart too rudely torn ,
Spent all his strength in giving
Where there was no return .

There is no turning back :
Only in love shall love by love defend thee :
Possessing thee, yet thine ,
Half human half divine ,
Giving unasked all love thy love doth lack ,
Shall put on immortality to find thee ,
Shall rise , death slain , and live ,
Life without end to lend thee :
Take courage , then , in love .

9 April 1953

Translation of L‘Impossible’ by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

Translation of L‘Impossible’ by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore :

We will restore the days when life takes wing ,
And soars , a very skylark , to the skies ,
When so much brightness dazzles in her eyes
She falls , she drowns amid the flowers of spring .
Those flowers that scent her nest , her soul , her dream ,
And gloss her feathers at the sun’s first gleam !

God ! for one thread of gold to knit my hours ,
One splinter of that prism rainbow-gay .
That dreaming deep in those sweet days , sweet flowers ,
I might be free , a child born yesterday .

Then in my mother’s love my future slept ;
Then death among my kin was still unknown ;
All lived for me , vain child , for me alone ;
My life was paradise , regained or kept .

I loved , but what I loved I could not name ;
My heart beat high with joy , I knew not why ;
For me all nature then was scent and flame ;
I yearned to clasp those days . . . too long gone by .

3 April 1953

Spectator competition No.216 Set by J. M. Cohen to be received by April 1