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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,

Though laid the last;

Reverberating dome,

Of music cunningly built home

Against the void and indolent disgrace

Of unresponsive space;

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

Soles of the simple, earth-confiding feet,

And from the inmost heart

Outwards unto the thin

Silk curtains of the skin,

Every least part

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

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

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,

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,

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

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

Who has thy birth-time’s consecrating dew

For death’s sweet chrism retained,

Quick, tender, virginal, and unprofaned!