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Poem by William Watson


England to Ireland


   (FEBRUARY 1888)

Spouse whom my sword in the olden time won me,
  Winning me hatred more sharp than a sword
Mother of children who hiss at or shun me,
  Curse or revile me, and hold me abhorred
Heiress of anger that nothing assuages,
  Mad for the future, and mad from the past
Daughter of all the implacable ages,
  Lo, let us turn and be lovers at last!

Lovers whom tragical sin hath made equal,
  One in transgression and one in remorse.
Bonds may be severed, but what were the sequel?
  Hardly shall amity come of divorce.
Let the dead Past have a royal entombing,
  O'er it the Future built white for a fane!
I that am haughty from much overcoming
  Sue to thee, supplicatenay, is it vain?

Hate and mistrust are the children of blindness,
  Could we but see one another, 'twere well!
Knowledge is sympathy, charity, kindness,
  Ignorance only is maker of hell.
Could we but gaze for an hour, for a minute,
  Deep in each other's unfaltering eyes,
Love were begunfor that look would begin it
  Born in the flash of a mighty surprise.

Then should the ominous night-bird of Error,
  Scared by a sudden irruption of day,
Flap his maleficent wings, and in terror
  Flit to the wilderness, dropping his prey.
Then should we, growing in strength and in sweetness,
  Fusing to one indivisible soul,
Dazzle the world with a splendid completeness,
  Mightily single, immovably whole.

Thou, like a flame when the stormy winds fan it,
  I, like a rock to the elements bare,
Mixed by love's magic, the fire and the granite,
  Who should compete with us, what should compare?
Strong with a strength that no fate might dissever,
  One with a oneness no force could divide,
So were we married and mingled for ever,
  Lover with lover, and bridegroom with bride.



William Watson


William Watson's other poems:
  1. A Child's Hair
  2. On Exaggerated Deference to Foreign Literary Opinion
  3. On Landor's Hellenics
  4. Mensis Lacrimarum
  5. Sketch of a Political Character


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