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A heartwarming gift for you on this cold Valentine’s Day: “Phyllis Loves Kelly,” 60 years of collected love poems from poet Phyllis Gotlieb to her husband, Kelly...

 

 

The Feud

2    O mother, will no one hearken?
3A cry of the lost, will no one save?
4A cry of the dead, though the oceans rave,
5And the scream of a gull as he wheels o'er a grave,
6    While the shadows darken and darken.'
7'Oh, hush thee, child, for the night is wet,
8    And the cloud-caves split asunder,
9With lightning in a jagged fret,
10Like the gleam of a salmon in the net,
11When the rocks are rich in the red sunset,
12    And the stream rolls down in thunder.'
13'Mother, O mother, a pain at my heart,
14    A pang like the pang of dying.'
15'Oh, hush thee, child, for the wild birds dart
16Up and down, and close and part,
17Wheeling round where the black cliffs start,
18    And the foam at their feet is flying.'
19'O mother, a strife like the black clouds'
20    And a peace that cometh after.'
21'Hush, child, for peace is the end of life,
22And the heart of a maiden finds peace as a wife,
23But the sky and the cliffs and the ocean are rife
24    With the storm and thunder's laughter.'
25'Come in, my sons, come in and rest,
26    For the shadows darken and darken,
27And your sister is pale as the white swan's breast,
28And her eyes are fixed and her lips are pressed
29In the death of a name ye might have guessed,
30    Had ye twain been here to hearken.'
31'Hush, mother, a corpse lies on the sand,
32    And the spray is round it driven,
33It lies on its face, and one white hand
34Points through the mist on the belt of strand
35To where the cliffs of Sansard stand,
36    And the ocean's strength is riven.'
37'Was it God, my sons, who laid him there?
38    Or the sea that left him sleeping?'
40As swift as the rain through the teeth of the air;
41And the foam-fingers play in the Saxon's hair,
42    While the tides are round him creeping.'
43'Oh, curses on you, hand and head,
44    Like the rains in this wild weather
45The guilt of blood is swift and dread,
46Your sister's face is cold and dead,
47Ye may not part whom God would wed
48    And love hath knit together.'

Notes

1] "The ballad was written one evening in Drummondville" (Collected Poems [Vancouver: Clarke and Stuart, 1934]: 180).
Sansard: an invented placename? Back to Line
39] dirks: knives. Back to Line
 What thou lovest well remains,
                  the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
                or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
    Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
Ezra Pound Pisan Cantos, LXXXI
Maps