Friday, December 12, 2008

The Princess of the Black Stone Bailey

A free priest, away and merry
Easy to rove the dreaming downs
Saw a princess framed in window stone,
The Princess of the black stone bailey
Above the gates that groaned apart
To admit his ringing bell and holy form
From an open air,
While the green hills, bending road
And slanting skies
Bid him walk the other way.

Beautiful, the princess wise
Of the black stone bailey
Above the full-swung gate
Where the priest now stood.
How her metal hair should
Send a lathe-spun light
At once twice yellow, full bright
A burst star, flying
Beams of wild delight!
How knowledge beneath her brow
Should glow in her eyes a cool appreciation,
Open, alert, placid blue, soft consummations
Of softer desires and darkened dreams
Like placid skis behind gothic spires
That beckon with piercing insinuation,
Or can repel again
With softly narrowed attenuation.

A book against her breast was open
Where was written her devotions,
But this princess other words
She knew, a siren's song,
A Kirke's creaking incantation
That ever calls the shadow-life
Lost shades to Aeaea:
Alongside her missal prayers
Discernment exceeding comprehension
To enjoin a free priest
Of self-same learning!

He now mounts the bailey stair
Rising up in spiral gyre
To join her in the tower lair,
Like Icarus a sun to see,
Or like the scores' gray fulmers
Who cry "Wind!" and pierce the sky.
So he enters the tower room,
Withal the bailey attic
Her quotient-musk fills the air.

Open hand he shows and lifts
From her breast the missal book.
"Friend," says he soft
And gentle shakes his bell,
"Speak to me your bailey prayer."

In like stillness she makes answer
His honest request
And coldly whispers four old lines
So all may be redressed
In man and woman
In bird and beast
Over Earth in higher Heaven:

"To Love we Forgive
To Forgive we Love
For Rebirth we are Born
Forever, save Death, we Live."

Such these words the free priest heard
Whispered by the round-eyed Princess
In the sky-borne
Black stone bailey.

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