To Ruth
or the selfsame song

  1. For what we cannot do without
  2. So love is not the seat of lovers' dreams
  3. A thousand answers, each one wrong
  4. She faltered in the field of corn a mile above the road

For what we cannot do without
Or long to know within
I paid the ransom eagerly, forgoing sith for sin
So to begin
But what about
The vodka, or the gin?

For that we cannot use withal
Or promise to fulfil
I paid in kind for piece of mind, proceeding at a crawl
As slow as still
As weak as will
As terrible as tall.

In payment, as a palliative
Or softener of ills
I prompted your peremptory production of the pills,
The daffodils
Which you will give
In specious codicils.

In recompense, in retrospect
Or rectifying sense
I paid in aphrodisiacs what you had paid in pence
Over the fence
And indirect
A thousand ages hence.

A bribe for beauty, bride for both
Or double duty too
I dry your eye - I'd rather die than do what you must do
Sublimely true
A "blimey" oath
I think it's overdue.

And when I'm bankrupt, home I'll go
To bribe the bride at last
And though I pause, the final clause will seal the matter fast:
Tied to the mast
The wind will blow,
Shall we resist the blast?

So love is not the seat of lovers' dreams
As long as sleep is sleep and nothing more
Nor cunning sprite that waits behind the door
Whose probing searchlight misdirects the beams
But nought redeems.

This pixie with his arrows (some say spears)
Will come (if not as soon as we may wish
Because hems lame) and searching for the fish
Into the murky bowl the goblin peers
The truth he nears.

We merely say this to destroy the calm
The light is only shone to spoil the dark
And make fIuoresce the mural, cold and stark,
A picture of a love who came to harm
And broke her arm.

An arm is not an arm in times of strife
And love affords no balm to those incensed
By torsion on a tow-bar, trouble-tensed,
Will not suffice to make you share my life
Rather my knife!

But epigrams will not convince you now
For sleep is sleep and dreams are little else
Than fevered turnings, psych'somatic bells
That imitate our discord with their row
And bring back now.

She beams and makes the girderburden light
As if the levity of love have flown
Although the brevity of breath is known
To fly much faster than the fragrant night
And leaves our sight.

So love will die despite the coming day
The pixie's lying poisoned on the stairs
And dying now, alone or else in pairs,
The might of loves who passed the mirth of May
Inspires my lay.

A thousand answers, each one wrong
An argument in epigrams
A patient prayer, a dreary song
An argument in verse
For you who know the true ones from the shams
And from the fakes
And never yet came under evil curse
Yet she awakes

She makes to drown my sorrows in dismay
And drinks the draught that blows no tears away,

My feeble heart will not relent
For many answers, none correct,
Or unsigned letters wrongly sent
To drinkers of the juice
Made from fruits by those on islands wrecked
Alone marooned
Beneath the open sky, beyond the use
Of those who crooned

She seems to take the meaning from my life
Dividing yet the widow from the wife

More happiness would not be felt
A thousand times in flower-beds
Than would suffice perhaps to melt
The ice around the pool
Where you have more gardens now than sheds
Than secret rooms
Where singer stores his voice, plumber his tool
Women their wombs

She knows my love: I pray you gods descend
And make our break, our shattered prayer a mound

At last I find my heart is grown
Too callous for the camouflage
That makes the skin conceal the bone
And summons up the blood.
But blood will never make my heart pulse large
With bridal beat
For you who know the living from the dud
And miss from meet.

She faltered in the field of corn a mile above the road
In purple cloak and long dark hair she seemed a little sad
And gazing on the greener grass where, maybe, oats were sowed
She felt a weakness in her heart such as she never had,
Her purple hair, and long dark cloak beside her on the ground
She felt undying sorrow for the turning of her fate
The turning of the narrow strait into a noisome sound
A cataract where all her fears are thwarted, much too late.
And what a fall from constancy to here, beside a sea
As green as is the unripe corn in which she falters yet
A mile above, and yet below the standard poverty
For nuns. I think her name is Ruth, but I shall soon forget
The purple is the symbol of the regal point-to-point
The regal combatants that spar on arid desert sand
The long dark hair is oily from the potion to anoint
Her body that's so pale now it never will be tanned.
But like a tree that needs at least two axemen to be felled
My love for her lives evermore, a new ring every year,
An apple and an apricot upon her branches swelled
And finally a fleshy lobe upon each wheaten ear.
In purple to sustain her now when shepherds come to rest
And gaze admiringly upon her plenitude of youth
And give their best and come to rest upon the pillow partly pressed
And dream of words that gather herds and soothe the purest breast:
To Ruth.