The Green Castle
The first heaven is a flowery plain;
The second, a glass mountain;
The third, likewise terrestrial,
Is an orchard-close unclouded
By prescience of death or change
Or the blood-sports of desire;
Our childhood paradise.
The next three heavens, known as celestial,
Are awkward of approach.
Mind is the prudent rider; body, the ass
Disciplined always by a harsh bit,
Accepts his daily diet of thorns
And frugal, brackish water;
Holds converse with archangels.
The seventh heaven, most unlike those others,
We once contrived to enter
By a trance of love; it is a green castle
Girdled with ramparts of blue sea
And silent but for the waves’ leisured wash.
There Adam rediscovered Eve;
She wrapped him in her arms.
An afterglow of truth, still evident
When we had fallen earthward,
Astonished all except the born blind.
Strangers would halt us in the roadway:
‘Confess where you have been.’
And, at a loss, we replied stumblingly:
‘It was here, it was nowhere —
Last night we lodged at a green castle,
Its courtyard paved with gold.’