A Letter

My Love, and once again my Love,
And then no more until the end,
Until the waters cease to move,
Until we rest within the Ark,
And all is light which now is dark,
And loves can never more descend.
And yet-and yet be just to me
At least for manhood; for the whole
Love-current of a human soul,
Though bent and rolled through fruitless ways,
Tho' marred with slime and choked with weed,
(Long lost the silver ripple-song,
Long past the sprouting water-mead,)
Is something awful, broad and strong.
Remember that this utterly,
With all its waves of passion, set
To you; that all the water store,
No second April shall restore,
Was so to broken cisterns poured,
And lost, or else long since had met
The ocean-love of Christ the Lord.
My Brother, hear me; for the Name
Which is as fire in my bones
Has burned away the former shame;
Held I my peace, the very stones
Would cry against me; hear me then,
Who will not bid you hear again.
Hear what I saw, and why I fled,
And how I lost and how I won,
I, who between the quick and dead,
Once chose corruption for my own.

I saw, where heaven's arches meet,
One stand in awfulness alone,
With folded robe and gleaming feet
And eyes that looked not up nor down.
It was the archangel, drawing breath
To blow for life, to blow for death.
The glow and soft reality
Of love and life grew cold and grey,
And died before the Eternity
That compasseth the Judgment day.
I said, 'My sin is full and ended';
While down the garden that we tended,
As in a heavy dream, I turned
Thro' lilied glades that once were sweet,
Trampling the buds that kissed my feet,
Until the sword above me burned.
My hair was shrivelled to my head,
My heart as ashes scorched, and dead
As his who ere its beating died.
The life imprisoned in my brain
Burst to my eyes in throbs of pain,
And all their tender springs were dried.
For miles and miles the wilds I trod,
Drunk with the angry wine of God;
Until the nets of anguish broke,
Until the prisoner found release.

I mused awhile in quietness
Upon that strangest liberty:
Then other fires intolerably
Were kindled in me-and I spoke;
And so attained the hidden Peace,
The land of Wells beyond the fire,
The Face of loveliness unmarred,
The Consummation of desire.

O vesper-light! O night thick-starred!
O five-fold springs, that upward burst
And radiate from Calvary
To stay the weary nations' thirst,
And hide a world's impurity!-
How one drew near with soilèd feet,
Through all the Marah overflow,
And how the waters were made sweet
That night Thou knowest,-only Thou.

Repent with me, for judgement waits.
Repent with me, for Jesus hung
Three hours upon the nails for you.
Rise, bid the angels sing anew
At every one of Sion's gates
The song which then for me they sung.

by Digby Mackworth Dolben

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