To My Godchild, Francis M.W.M.
This labouring, vast, Tellurian galleon, Riding at anchor off the orient sun, Had broken its cable, and stood out to space Down some frore Arctic of the aërial ways: And now, back warping from the inclement main, Its vaporous shroudage drenched with icy rain, It swung into its azure roads again; When, floated on the prosperous sun-gale, you Lit, a white halcyon auspice, ’mid our frozen crew. To the Sun, stranger, surely you belong, Giver of golden days and golden song; Nor is it by an all-unhappy plan You bear the name of me, his constant Magian. Yet ah! from any other that it came, Lest fated to my fate you be, as to my name. When at the first those tidings did they bring, My heart turned troubled at the ominous thing: Though well may such a title him endower, For whom a poet’s prayer implores a poet’s power. The Assisian, who kept plighted faith to three, To Song, to Sanctitude, and Poverty, (In two alone of whom most singers prove A fatal faithfulness of during love!); He the sweet Sales, of whom we scarcely ken How God he could love more, he so loved men; The crown and crowned of Laura and Italy; And Fletcher’s fellow—from these, and not from me, Take you your name, and take your legacy! Or, if a right successive you declare When worms, for ivies, intertwine my hair, Take but this Poesy that now followeth My clayey hest with sullen servile breath, Made then your happy freedman by testating death. My song I do but hold for you in trust, I ask you but to blossom from my dust. When you have compassed all weak I began, Diviner poet, and ah! diviner man; The man at feud with the perduring child In you before song’s altar nobly reconciled; From the wise heavens I half shall smile to see How little a world, which owned you, needed me. If, while you keep the vigils of the night, For your wild tears make darkness all too bright, Some lone orb through your lonely window peeps, As it played lover over your sweet sleeps; Think it a golden crevice in the sky, Which I have pierced but to behold you by! And when, immortal mortal, droops your head, And you, the child of deathless song, are dead; Then, as you search with unaccustomed glance The ranks of Paradise for my countenance, Turn not your tread along the Uranian sod Among the bearded counsellors of God; For if in Eden as on earth are we, I sure shall keep a younger company: Pass where beneath their rangèd gonfalons The starry cohorts shake their shielded suns, The dreadful mass of their enridgèd spears; Pass where majestical the eternal peers, The stately choice of the great Saintdom, meet— A silvern segregation, globed complete In sandalled shadow of the Triune feet; Pass by where wait, young poet-wayfarer, Your cousined clusters, emulous to share With you the roseal lightnings burning ’mid their hair; Pass the crystalline sea, the Lampads seven:— Look for me in the nurseries of Heaven.
Francis Thompson’s other poems:
- Epilogue to the Poet’s Sitter
- The Child-Woman
- Poet and Anchorite
- The Mirage
- To a Child Heard Repeating Her Mother’s Verses
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