The Question

This poem seems suitable for Eastertide.  It’s out of the files, perhaps from 10 years ago.  I think it was written under the influence of sixteenth-century pastoral poetry–Raleigh, Spenser, and the like–with a good bit of nineteenth-century Blake thrown in.  I dearly love early modern English and, for the life of me, can’t fathom why we’re not allowed to write it anymore.

The Question

Where hast thou been this night, my love?
Where hast thou been this night?
I tarried till the wick burnt low
And slept for want of light.
Where hast thou been this night?

I wandered out on lonesome ways;
In yonder wood I wept;
And on yon barren hill alone
I labored whilst thou slept.

Why smellest thou of bud and bloom?
Why smell of roses sweet?
In seas of frankincense and tears
They washed my head and feet.

What are these wounds upon thy face,
These bruises on thy brow?
The kisses, love, thou gavest me
On parting just ere now.

What are these prints upon thy palms,
These gravings so unkind?
Thy name, my love, which I wrote there
When thou forgottest mine.

Thou comest here on stamping steeds,
On milk-white wings of fire.
Such wings shall bear thee far with me,
With legions of desire.

Thy speech is bold, thy manner changed;
Thy face is strange to me.
Where streams of milk and honey flow,
Thou shalt remember me.

And whither shall these horses go?
What may thy counsels be?
Where amaranthine lilies grow,
There I shall marry thee.

Our feast shall be the angels’ bread,
Our drink, immortal wine;
And loves like oil shall be shed
Upon thy head and mine.

And what if I shall say thee nay?
With thee I shall not flee.
Thou knowest whither and the way.
Wilt thou not come with Me?


About middlingpoet

From the Gawain poet to Rainer Maria Rilke: I love traditional poetry.
This entry was posted in Divine Riddles, mysticism. Bookmark the permalink.

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