The Great War

from November: Poems in War Time, an electronic edition

The Greeting

HER pinched uncompromising face was pitiful

Seeming to plead for love, and yet with what a proud

Accent she said, setting my proffered love aside:--

"My friend, if you had only looked with faithful eyes

Into the truth I showed you, if you had not faltered

Upon the sills of sight and, guessing prematurely,

So misconceived the look in which I told you all

As to make foolishness of it with your wild answer,

You would have understood what I can never tell:

You would have seen me, for I ventured forth to you:

To you, unseeing, I came forth out of my secret.

If haply, mirrored in your comprehending gaze,

I might at last behold my spirit unknown to me,

Know myself in your eyes, and solve at last my riddle."

I heard her speak, I made a silence of myself

That I might all be, as it were, one word of welcome,

As it were hands held out all ready to receive her--

Wherefore my lips were silent, hands folded before me--

For her, all that I am was waiting in my eyes.

Then she came forth to me, radiant, a spirit of light.

Before whose sovereign pure splendour the condescension

My fond heart had prepared was utterly ashamed:

I saw her: I forgot my folly, worshipping in her

That wonder of else incredible divinity

That searches the world through if there be any place

Unoccupied by the busy turmoil of our cares

Wherein its quiet hands may find employment.