Sestina on autumn

two pages

Sestina on autumn
Now the leaves fade and fall , speak not of dying :
Only in spring that thought befits the soul ,
When life flowers , and sweet birds embowered in music
Teach us to value joys that must depart :
While beauty fades , think not of death but judgment :
Harvest is done ; now comes the waiting time .

Pray then , dear love , how best to use this time ,
Too brief to waste in idle thoughts of dying ,
To store the winnowed harvest of the soul
For one year more , and sing to the wind’s music ,
Hoping to see yet one more spring depart ,
Yet one more spring , before we come to judgment .

What have we stored against the day of judgment ?
Be sure , however much we made of time ,
Hours will rebuke us when we come to dying :
Black hours that crabbed or atrophied the soul ,
Hours without rhythm , deaf to any music ,
Black hours , though pardoned , that may not depart .

With life alone these stiff rebukes depart :
Pardon , redemption , cannot temper judgment .
Yet though our sins stood judged before all time ,
Though hell were only our desert in dying ,
Rest we secure of mercy to the soul ,
That noble mercy of enduring music .

Faintly and far away we hear that music ,
By snatches and with echoes that depart
Before the ear can bring their tone to judgment :
Earth moves to music while the seas keep time ,
Stars in their courses mock your thought of dying ,
Who know the destined music of each soul .

When each of us has well attuned his soul , 

Learnt faultlessly his burden in the music ,
And stands perfected , ready to depart ,
His garners filled with harvest ripe for judgment ,
There will be time enough , there will be time
To mourn the yellow leaves and speak of dying .

Pray then that dying penitent of soul
We to that music may in peace depart
Leaving our judgment in the hands of time .

27 September 1952

Sure of thy love, my heart is free

Sure of thy love, my heart is free
To roam in ways unknown to thee
Directing all his power to guess
Another’s grief or happiness ,
Striving through other eyes to see
This dream we call reality :
Thy heart at home keeps house for me —
I could not venture , were I less
Sure of thy love .

When , wearied by variety ,
My heart fares home in peace to be ,
My sweetest task is to express
The beauty of thy mortal dress :
I brave change and eternity ,
Sure of thy love .

20th September 1952