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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
To the Body
By Coventry Patmore (1823–1896)
 
CREATION’S and Creator’s crowning good;
          Wall of infinitude;
          Foundation of the sky,
            In heaven forecast
      And longed for from eternity,        5
            Though laid the last;
          Reverberating dome,
      Of music cunningly built home
Against the void and indolent disgrace
          Of unresponsive space;        10
      Little sequestered pleasure-house
          For God and for his Spouse;
Elaborately, yea, past conceiving, fair,
Since, from the graced decorum of the hair,
          Even to the tingling, sweet        15
Soles of the simple, earth-confiding feet,
          And from the inmost heart
          Outwards unto the thin
          Silk curtains of the skin,
            Every least part        20
            Astonished hears
And sweet replies to some like region of the spheres;
Formed for a dignity prophets but darkly name,
      Lest shameless men cry “Shame!”
      So rich with wealth concealed        25
That heaven and hell fight chiefly for this field;
Clinging to everything that pleases thee
With indefectible fidelity;
            Alas, so true
      To all thy friendships that no grace        30
Thee from thy sin can wholly disembrace;
Which thus ’bides with thee as the Jebusite,
  That, maugre all God’s promises could do,
The chosen People never conquered quite;
      Who therefore lived with them,        35
And that by formal truce and as of right,
In metropolitan Jerusalem.
        For which false fealty
    Thou needs must, for a season, lie
In the grave’s arms, foul and unshriven,        40
          Albeit in heaven
      Thy crimson-throbbing glow
Into its old abode aye pants to go,
      And does with envy see
Enoch, Elijah, and the Lady, she        45
  Who left the roses in her body’s lieu.
Oh, if the pleasures I have known in thee
But my poor faith’s poor first-fruits be,
What quintessential, keen, ethereal bliss
          Then shall be his        50
Who has thy birth-time’s consecrating dew
    For death’s sweet chrism retained,
Quick, tender, virginal, and unprofaned!
 
 
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