Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 169. From ‘Liber Amoris’
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
169. From ‘Liber Amoris’
By Henry Bernard Carpenter  (1840–1900)

OH, there are moments in man’s mortal years
When for an instant that which long has lain
Beyond our reach is on a sudden found
In things of smallest compass, and we hold
The unbounded shut in one small minute’s space,        5
And worlds within the hollow of our hand,—
A world of music in one word of love,
A world of love in one quick wordless look,
A world of thought in one translucent phrase,
A world of memory in one mournful chord,       10
A world of sorrow in one little song.
Such moments are man’s holiest,—the divine
And first-sown seeds of Love’s eternity.
And such were those last moments when I sat
Beside my long-lost friend, soft-laid again       15
In what no longer was his lair of death,
But now his bed of glory. Life, all life,
Its terrors and its tumults and its tears,
Its hopes, its agonies and its ecstasies,
Its nights of sorrow and its dawns of joy,       20
Its visionary raptures and its dull
Death-darkened hours, its longings, losses, gains,
Curses and cries and lamentations loud,
Sins, frenzies, and despairs, the monstrous births
Of thought and action groping for the light,       25
The false, the true, the night’s red underworld
Of nadir darkness, and the zenith stars
Lost in their spheral music beating time
To every heart that hates or loves or mourns,—
These now were one, and I was one with these,       30
And these with me through Love’s transfusing power
That passed upon me then. There as we sat,—
My brother and I, my brother made anew,
My brother thrice made mine, for ever mine,
Made one and equal with me through Love’s might,—       35
We felt all space was ours, all time was ours;
We were as those that reign above the worlds;
And in our souls we saw the light round which
All multiformal things grow uniform,
The many sing as one. And we were one,       40
Calm-seated in the heaven that overflows
With the world’s music of perpetual peace.

And then I thought that He whom we name God
Was not perhaps some unit of cold thought
Such as Greek sages gave to Christian saints,       45
A primal number, lone, creationless;
But now He came to me, as oft before,
The everlasting Twofold, ever one,
The man and woman still inseparable.
And as the absolute can never live       50
Without its relative; as silent space
Knows nothing, never sees or hears itself
Without time’s measuring music; as cold form
Lies blind and blank till colour comes with kiss
And warmth outpoured upon it, such as once       55
Elisha poured upon the lifeless child,—
So God was now no longer unto me
A lonely masculine might above the worlds,
But as the man and woman, twofold life,
Its married Law and Love, and these were one.       60
And from their wedded love sprang forth a child,
Their first-begotten-son, whose name was Love,—
Love their great heir, the lord of life and death,
The holder of the keys to all we know
And all the secrets of the unsearchable,       65
The chalice-bearer of the world’s life-wine,
Bringer of light and steersman of the stars.



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