Sunday, January 07, 2007

"...the grace of one hour"

1938 Harriet & Gordon
Impenitentia Ultima

Before my light goes out for ever
if God should give me a choice of graces,
I would not reck of length of days,
nor crave for things to be;
But cry: "One day of the great lost days,
one face of all the faces,
Grant me to see and touch once more
and nothing more to see.
"For, Lord, I was free of all Thy flowers,
but I chose the world’s sad roses,
And that is why my feet are torn
and mine eyes are blind with sweat,
But at Thy terrible judgment-seat,
when this my tired life closes,
I am ready to reap where of I sowed,
and pay my righteous debt.
"But once before the sand is run
and the silver thread is broken,
Give me a grace and cast aside
the veil of dolorous years,
Grant me one hour of all mine hours,
and let me see for a token
Her pure and pitiful eyes shine out,
and bathe her feet with tears."
Her pitiful hands should calm,
and her hair stream down and blind me,
Out of the sight of night,
and out of the reach of fear,
And her eyes should be my light
whilst the sun went out behind me,
And the viols in her voice
be the last sound in mine ear.
Before the ruining waters fall
and my life be carried under,
And Thine anger cleave me through
as a childcuts down a flower,
I will praise Thee, Lord, in Hell,
while my limbs are racked asunder,
For the last sad sight of her face
and the little grace of an hour.

By Ernest Dowson