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LX (ii) (‘At times, pure love may justly be equated’)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

LX (ii)

At times, pure love may justly be equated

With fervent hope; nor need it be deceived.

If by all human loves the heavens are grieved,

Then to what end was the whole world created?

If I indeed honour and love you, Lord,

And if I burn, it is a heavenly calm

That emanates from you and makes me warm;

Such peace is far removed from all discord.

True love is not a passion which can die,

Or which depends on beauty that must fade;

Nor is it subject to a changing face.

That love is true and holy which finds place

Within a modest heart, and which is made,

Far above earth, a pledge of love on high.

LXI On the Death of Vittoria Colonna

If my rough hammer makes a human form

And carves it in the hard, unyielding stone,

My hand is guided, does not move alone,

But follows where that other worker came.

Yet the first worker, God, remains above,

Whose very motion makes all loveliness.

To make a tool I need a tool, but his

Power is the first cause and makes all things move.

That stroke which in the forge is raised most high

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Waking in Tears, 18 December 1966 (UD, 186/2/49)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Early advent this, and expectation.

A child, a voice will come from coldness.

Maybe a star will fall,

I am uncertain always.

Hold it, let it not corrode,

Shave off the rough edges of it and you have gold and warmth.

I dare that bird to be demure.

Someone should shout and rejoice.


I cannot speak the words I want to say

Because the languages betray too much.

I cannot tell you in a proper way

How love is still but allied to mere touch.

Always there is an absence and delay.

I handle gently what I want to clutch.

You teach me how to speak and how to lay

Words side by side. I have none of my own

You teach me what I want to write and say.

You see, the wishes and the speech have gone.

Simply with eyes and hands you touch and teach.

And I am lost and all the words are done.

The gift of tongues must take us out of reach.

Waking in Tears

This has never happened before –

Waking up crying

Sobbing and crying

Yet not remembering the nightmare.

When it happened last week I

Ran down the corridor

Looking for someone,

To ask for the Night Sister

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Ventriloquist on an Off-Day

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc University of North Texas Press PDF
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Clarke, Gillian Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
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LXXVI (‘Those souls for whom you died were sad as well’)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF


I wish, God, for some end I do not will.

Between the fire and heart a veil of ice

Puts out the fire. My pen will not move well,

So that the sheet on which I’m working lies.

I pay you mere lip-service, then I grieve;

Love does not reach my heart, I do not know

How to admit that grace which would relieve

My state and crush the arrogance I show.

Oh tear away that veil, God, break that wall

Which with its strength refuses to let in

The sun whose light has vanished from the world.

Send down the promised light to bless and hold

Your lovely bride. So may I seek for all

I need in you, both end there and begin.


Those souls for whom you died were sad as well

As happy that you chose death for their sake.

The blood you shed had locked the doors of Hell,

And opened Heaven for all mankind to take.

Happy they were because you had redeemed

Man from his first mistake and final loss.

But they were sad such suffering had claimed

Your flesh which died for all men on the cross.

Heaven gave a sign that she had seen it all;

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