Exile

first of four pages

Exile

1 Here on this narrow bed
   I lie confined ,
  Cursing my injured head ,
  Bandaged and blind .
5 Voices come , voices go ,
    Cheerful and kind :
  ‘Lucky to save your life ! ’
   Lucky ? Accursed , I know

  Fury of mind ;

10 Strong body torn and smashed
  When my two-seater crashed
  What of my wife ?
‘Safe and well,’ they told me , lying,
‘Together soon ,’ they said :
15 Soon , yes : for I am dying
And she is dead .

Come words , ring and rhyme ,
Guard my soul in this assault ,
She has fallen prey to time ,
20 By my fault , by my fault :
Though I never more again ,
Foot it featly as you will ,
Death is sure and grief is vain ,
Sweet my words, come dancing still .

25 She was young and debonair
( Weep , shepherds at her death )
Slender , innocent and fair ,
With tender-taken breath :
Rally , poets , at my call ,
30 Forgive me what I borrow ;
I honoured her above you all
And have not long for sorrow ;
Help me deplore her timeless fall second page
For I must die tomorrow .

35 Now walk the angels on the walls of heaven :
And do they so ? And is there endless rest ,
No wave , no tide in that eternal haven
Where Treasure lies secure from moth and rust ?
So she believed when she went out to find
40 That land beyond the marches of her mind ,
The country she held dear ,
And left me here .

Come , words , clutch and cling ,
Drug my soul against despair
45 Come , poets , dance and sing ,
Banish grief and killing care :
Orpheus with his lute made trees ,
Half-regained his other soul ,
Could have kept her safe with ease ,
50 Had he practised self-control .
Of Muses I con no such skill
And minor is my proper key ,
Yet could I fetch my wife at will
She should not escape from me .

55 Orpheus had one consolation
For the evils that he braved ,
His wife , without much hesitation ,
Consented to be saved :
Mine thought I needed all the saving ,
60 Regretted mortal birth ,
And insisted on behaving
As an exile upon earth .
She would argue , she would plead ,
Elbow me towards the light ,
65 Now perhaps she knows indeed
Which of us was in the right .

Come, words , be my shield ,
Lest I falter , lest I bow :
Free and strong I would not yield third page
70 How should I surrender now ?
I was in love with life , and life was love ,
Love was the world , and all the world was she :
But when I said as much , she grieved for me :
The mighty dance of all that live and move
75 Controlling fortune , abrogating chance ,
The intricate , the unavoided dance
Was all she longed to know :
She told me so .
Well she has gone to join it , freed by me
80 Unwittingly and most unwillingly :
With no hope of heavenly treasure ,
Future mirth ,
I detained her for my pleasure
Here on earth .
85 She loved me , and possessively
But would not put me first :
And now we die successively ,
She blessed , I accursed .

Come , words, spin and weave ,
90 Clothe in silken phrase my rage :
I love this world she longed to leave
And lie here impotent as age :
She dances in the dance that stirs
Heaven and earth and sea and sky .
95 What she long desired is hers ;
The exile now am I .

Dated on the back of the booklet, actually on the back of the notes, 29 September 1951

fourth page

This is written out in a little note-book’s pages , six and a quarter inches by three and three quarters. The 96 lines end half-way down a page and the rest of that one is blank. On the facing page (which is the back of the opening page of ll.1-18)
she wrote me guiding notes:

N.B. — for your note only.
References ll.26 & 51 : Spenserian
28. Keats .
33 & 35 Marlowe & Marlovian
36 Vaughan
40 Marches here = borderland
46, 47 Shakespeare . Henry VIII song.
48 ¨Half regained Milton
74-76 et seq. Eliz. notion . —
possibly you do know all this , but you must , to catch the undertones — to give it a fair chance , m’dear.
Let the rhythm take you with it , or you’ll stumble .
No brief held .
Ho!
I deplore this paper .
This page may be detached for easy reference — and in any case .

I can’t dispose of the page, because the first 18 lines of the poem are on the other side of it.

In spite of the above heading I will share these notes with whoever is reading Exile . They illustrate the bridge between her skill and inspiration, both before and after this period, and myself as the one person with whom she deposited it all. The deposit was part of the love between us; but also I was as ignorant as the general reader, not only younger than Marion but primarily an historian. So I was useful — she needed to communicate with general readers. And my value as an example was continually pressed upon her because I was and am by nature persistent in questioning meaning and motive behind what I read or am told. With Exile she was showing me what sort of equipment I must develop to do that task effectively in her field, as well as in my own.

Stars grant me not unruffled joy

Stars grant me not unruffled joy ,
Though sweet that joy and deep ,
Lest rapture too secure should cloy
Or lull my soul to sleep .

We prize the late and perfect rose ,
Menaced by eager rain .
The pearl in its perfection grows
Round one intrusive grain .

Let love flower sweet and insecure ,
The sweeter for the dread .
These pearls I string you shall endure
When love and I are dead .

Received 29 September 1951

Spring was made for mating

Spring was made for mating ,
Joy lies stored for some :
Now, since love is waiting ,
Give me leave to come .

Summer comes sublimely ,
Joy runs hand in glove ;
Now , since love is timely ,
Give me leave to love .

Autumn leaves are flying ,
Joy deserts her mate :
Now , since love is dying ,
Give me leave to hate .

Winter comes unfriended ,
Joy lies wrapped in snow :
Now , since love is ended
Give me leave to go .

Received 25 September 1951

Bar fast the gate of memory when my ghost

[on the reverse of The Rivals]

Bar fast the gate of memory when my ghost
Whines for admission ;
Why should you favour me above the lost
In like position ?

Reserve your favours now for men that live ,
The dead need none :
Slip me from mind as sands slip through a sieve ,
Or in an hourglass run .

The hourglass runs to rescue living men :
You must grow old :
Like a rose drab and shrivelled , you shall then
Lie in the cold .

And when the wind , a lover at your door ,
Whispers importunate ,
Remember one whose love was even more
Unfortunate .

The Rivals was dated 24 September 1951

The Rivals

The Rivals

Now there is silence and the moon hangs low ,
Walk with me down the hill :
The words you carved nine years and more ago
Deface that elmtree still .

I love my love till death ; but you did not ,
You left her in your spite :
The love you drove to madness and forgot
Died seven years tonight .

The moon hung very low the night she died ,
It glinted on my knife :
I swore then , if I took you by my side
To have your life .

Lie there , till morning draw the moon away
And neighbours catch their breath :
My hanging body shall attest by day
I loved my love till death .

Received 24 September 1951

Lunatic

Lunatic

Wise folk call me a man insane
( Life , go easily , death come soon . )
They laugh within doors , but I remain
With the cold moon , the bright moon , the cold bright moon .

Many a night has the madman seen ,
( Life , go easily , death come soon )
He knows how little the wise folk mean
To the cold moon , the bright moon , the cold bright moon

I saw in the night a secret sign ,
(Life , go easily , death come soon . )
Wise folk take heed , for the world is mine ,
And the cold moon , the bright moon , the cold bright moon .

Received 17 September 1951

Admired Burlerrow, farm beyond compare,

Admired Burlerrow, farm beyond compare,
From stir sequestered and remote from care
I sing . ‘sweet Muse, assist my grateful lays
To hymn Burlerrow’s never dying praise
Speak not of Jove — a jovial lord presides
And fleeter steeds than Phoebus’ own provides
Juno, retire: a matron far more bland
Sways this Olympus with a bounteous hand :
Blush, Hebe : smiling Mary stands supreme
And shames your nectar with her Cornish cream :
The weary traveller finds refreshment rare
And strengthened breathes to heaven a parting prayer :
Long may this house in peace and plenty rest
And joys domestic cheer the favoured guest ,
That he may counsel each returning year,
‘Seek bliss no further! I have found it here .’

6 September 1951

This is a rare example of work I have in an unfinished state. She seems to have had a struggle to throw off the vocabulary of Eldorado. The fair copy, of course, she gave the farmer and his wife.