A Wedding in War Time

Our God who made two lovers in a garden,

And smote them separate and set them free,

Their four eyes wild for wonder and wrath and pardon

And their kiss thunder as lips of land and sea:

Each rapt unendingly beyond the other,

Two starry worlds of unknown gods at war,

Wife and not mate, a man and not a brother,

We thank thee thou hast made us what we are.

 

Make not the grey slime of infinity

To swamp these flowers thou madest one by one;

Let not the light that was thine enemy

Mix a mad twilight of the moon and sun;

Waken again to thunderclap and clamour

The wonder of our sundering and the song,

Or break our hearts with thine hell-shattering hammer

But leave a shade between us all day long.

 

Shade of high shame and honourable blindness

When youth, in storm of dizzy and distant things,

Finds the wild windfall of a little kindness

When the one head that turns the heavens in turning

Moves yet as lightly as a lingering bird,

And red and random, blown astray but burning,

Like a lost spark goes by the glorious word.

 

Make not this sex, this other side of things,

A thing less distant than the world’s desire;

What colour to the to the end of evening clings

And what far cry of frontiers and what fire

Fallen too far beyond the sun for seeking,

Let it divide us though our kingdom come;

With a far signal in our secret speaking

To hang the proud horizon in our home.

 

Once we were one, a shapeless cloud that lingers

Loading  the seas and shutting out the skies,

One with the woods, a monster of myriad fingers,

You laid on me no finger of surprise.

One with the stars, a god with myriad eyes,

I saw you nowhere and was blind for scorn:

One till the world was riven and the rise

Of the white days when you and I were born.

 

Darkens the world: the world-old fetters rattle;

And these that have no hope behind the sun

May feed like bondmen and may breed like cattle,

One in the darkness as the dead are one;

Us if the rended grave give up its glory

Trumpets shall summon asunder and face to face:

We will be strangers in so strange a story

And wonder, meeting in so wild a place.

 

Ah, not in vain or utterly for loss

Come even the black flag and the battle-hordes,

If these grey devils flee the sign of the cross

Even in the symbol of the crossing swords.

Nor shall death doubt Who made our souls alive

Swords meeting and not stakes set side by side,

Bade us in the sunburst and the thunder thrive

Earthquake and Dawn; the bridegroom and the bride.

 

Death and not dreams or doubt of things undying,

Of whose the holy hearth or whose the sword;

Though sacred spirits dissever in strong crying

Into Thy hands, but Thy two hands, O Lord,

Though not in Earth as once in Eden standing,

So plain again we see Thee what thou art,

As in this blaze, the blasting and the branding

of this wild wedding where we meet and part.

 

— GK Chesterton (1918-19)

 

 

 

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