William Watson

1858-1935 / England

Love Outloved

I Love cometh and love goeth,
And he is wise who knoweth
Whither and whence love flies:
But wise and yet more wise
Are they that heed not whence he flies or whither
Who hither speeds to-day, to-morrow thither;
Like to the wind that as it listeth blows,
And man doth hear the sound thereof, but knows
Nor whence it comes nor whither yet it goes.


O sweet my sometime loved and worshipt one
A day thou gavest me
That rose full-orbed in starlike happiness
And lit our heaven that other stars had none:--
Sole as that westering sphere companionless
When twilight is begun
And the dead sun transfigureth the sea:
A day so bright
Methought the very shadow, from its light
Thrown, were enough to bless
(Albeit with but a shadow's benison)
The unborn days its dark posterity.
Methought our love, though dead, should be
Fair as in life, by memory
Embalmed, a rose with bloom for aye unblown.
But lo the forest is with faded leaves
And our two hearts with faded loves bestrown,
And in mine ear the weak wind grieves
And uttereth moan:
'Shed leaves and fallen, fallen loves and shed,
And those are dead and these are more than dead;
And those have known
The springtime, these the lovetime, overthrown,
With all fair times and pleasureful that be.'
And shall not we, O Time, and shall not we
Thy strong self see
Brought low and vanquishèd,
And made to bow the knee
And bow the head
To one that is when thou and thine are fled,
The silent-eyed austere Eternity?


Behold a new song still the lark doth sing
Each morning when he riseth from the grass,
And no man sigheth for the song that was,
The melody that yestermorn did bring.
The rose dies and the lily, and no man mourns
That nevermore the selfsame flower returns:
For well we know a thousand flowers will spring,
A thousand birds make music on the wing.
Ay me! fair things and sweet are birds and flowers,
The scent of lily and rose in gardens still,
The babble of beakèd mouths that speak no ill:
And love is sweeter yet than flower or bird,
Or any odor smelled or ditty heard--
Love is another and a sweeter thing.
But when the music ceaseth in Love's bowers,
Who listeneth well shall hear the silence stirred
With aftermoan of many a fretful string:
For when Love harpeth to the hollow hours,
His gladdest notes make saddest echoing.
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