Lascelles Abercrombie

Here you will find the Long Poem Emblems of Love of poet Lascelles Abercrombie

Emblems of Love


ONLY to be twin elements of joy 
In this extravagance of Being, Love, 
Were our divided natures shaped in twain; 
And to this hour the whole world must consent. 
Is it not very marvellous, our lives 
Can only come to this out of a long 
Strange sundering, with the years of the world between us? 

 Shall life do more than God? for hath not God 
Striven with himself, when into known delight 
His unaccomplisht joy he would put forth,? 
This mystery of a world sign of his striving? 
Else wherefore this, a thing to break the mind 
With labouring in the wonder of it, that here 
Being?the world and we?is suffered to be!? 
But, lying on thy breast one notable day, 
Sudden exceeding agony of love 
Made my mind a trance of infinite knowledge. 
I was not: yet I saw the will of God 
As light unfashion?d, unendurable flame, 
Interminable, not to be supposed; 
And there was no more creature except light,? 
The dreadful burning of the lonely God?s 
Unutter?d joy. And then, past telling, came 
Shuddering and division in the light: 
Therein, like trembling, was desire to know 
Its own perfect beauty; and it became 
A cloven fire, a double flaming, each 
Adorable to each; against itself 
Waging a burning love, which was the world;? 
A moment satisfied in that love-strife 
I knew the world!?And when I fell from there, 
Then knew I also what this life would do 
In being twin,?in being man and woman! 
For it would do even as its endless Master, 
Making the world, had done; yea, with itself 
Would strive, and for the strife would into sex 
Be cloven, double burning, made thereby 
Desirable to itself. Contrivèd joy 
Is sex in life; and by no other thing 
Than by a perfect sundering, could life 
Change the dark stream of unappointed joy 
To perfect praise of itself, the glee that loves 
And worships its own Being. This is ours! 
Yet only for that we have been so long 
Sundered desire: thence is our life all praise.? 
But we, well knowing by our strength of joy 
There is no sundering more, how far we love 
From those sad lives that know a half-love only, 
Alone thereby knowing themselves for ever 
Sealed in division of love, and therefore made 
To pour their strength always into their love?s 
Fierceness, as green wood bleeds its hissing sap 
Into red heat of a fire! Not so do we: 
The cloven anger, life, hath left to wage 
Its flame against itself, here turned to one 
Self-adoration.?Ah, what comes of this? 
The joy falters a moment, with closed wings 
Wearying in its upward journey, ere 
Again it goes on high, bearing its song, 
Its delight breathing and its vigour beating 
The highest height of the air above the world. 

 What hast thou done to me!?I would have soul, 
Before I knew thee, Love, a captive held 
By flesh. Now, inly delighted with desire, 
My body knows itself to be nought else 
But thy heart?s worship of me; and my soul 
Therein is sunlight held by warm gold air. 
Nay, all my body is become a song 
Upon the breath of spirit, a love-song. 

 And mine is all like one rapt faculty, 
As it were listening to the love in thee, 
My whole mortality trembling to take 
Thy body like heard singing of thy spirit. 

 Surely by this, Beloved, we must know 
Our love is perfect here,?that not as holds 
The common dullard thought, we are things lost 
In an amazement that is all unware; 
But wonderfully knowing what we are! 
Lo, now that body is the song whereof 
Spirit is mood, knoweth not our delight? 
Knoweth not beautifully now our love, 
That Life, here to this festival bid come 
Clad in his splendour of worldly day and night, 
Filled and empower?d by heavenly lust, is all 
The glad imagination of the Spirit? 

 Were it not so, Love could not be at all: 
Nought could be, but a yearning to fulfil 
Desire of beauty, by vain reaching forth 
Of sense to hold and understand the vision 
Made by impassion?d body,?vision of thee! 
But music mixt with music are, in love, 
Bodily senses; and as flame hath light, 
Spirit this nature hath imagined round it, 
No way concealed therein, when love comes near, 
Nor in the perfect wedding of desires 
Suffering any hindrance. 

 Ah, but now, 
Now am I given love?s eternal secret! 
Yea, thou and I who speak, are but the joy 
Of our for ever mated spirits; but now 
The wisdom of my gladness even through Spirit 
Looks, divinely elate. Who hath for joy 
Our Spirits? Who hath imagined them 
Round him in fashion?d radiance of desire, 
As into light of these exulting bodies 
Flaming Spirit is uttered? 

 Yea, here the end 
Of love?s astonishment! Now know we Spirit, 
And Who,