The School Bag


Kathleen Raine

    Darling, this is goodbye. The words are ordinary
    But love is rare. So let it go tenderly
    as the sound of violins into silence.

    Parting is sad for us, because something is over,
    But for the thing we have ended, it is a beginning —
    Let love go like a young bird flying from the nest.

    Like a new star, airborne into the evening,
    Watched out of sight, or let fall gently as a tear,
    Let our love go out of the world, like the prayer for a soul’s rest.

Let the roses go, that you fastened to my hair
One summer night in a garden, and the song
That we heard from another house, where a piano was playing;
The shadow a street lamp cast through the net of a curtain,
The river at night, smooth and silent Thames, flowing through London.
For two years Ullswater was silver with my love of you,
The golden birch-leaves were holy, the wild cherry was sweet
On the fell-sides, scenting the spring for you.
The bees, drunk with lime-flowers, dropped like grapes on the road,
And the silence was yours, over all Westmorland at night.

I raised the mountains for you, and set the streams
Running down the hills for love. I saw the moss grow
And the ferns unroll their croziers for love of you,
The snowdrops, the primrose, the heron, the martin, the sheep on the fells.

The snow was yours in winter, and the frost crystals
That shone like amethyst and sapphire in the starlight,
That grew their geometric beauty on the trees’ animate branches,
The frozen waterfall, the coral caves of ice,
The noise of water rushing from the thawing springs.

The wind on the mountain, the shelter of the garden,
The stone seat under the yew-tree, the fire in the evening,
Home-baked loaves, and apples, trout from the beck
I loved for you, held holy for you, my darling.

That was erotic. That was one with the grass,
One with the night, the animals and the stars,
All that is mortal in us, and must pass,
Creatures whose own death is their unguessed secret,
Loving in one another the rose that must fade.

Yours, too, was the anteroom of the angels,
When I could hear a pin drop, or a drop of rain,
Or the creak of a beam, or the butterfly caught in the rafters.
I wrestled with angels for you, and in my body
Endured the entire blessing of love’s pain.

All this is true. These things, my dear, are a life
Lived for love of you. The fire in the heart, the fire on the hearth,
And children’s stories in the evening, even hope’s death
Were precious for you. Precious all things in time
And outside time. The poem I know, and the wisdom
That is not mine, the poem that can never be written.

To you, one man among all men, I dedicate
The world i have known, my days and nights, my flowers,
The angels, the sorrows, the forms of life I consecrate
In your name, far beyond ourselves, or any selves, —
These attributes are God’s.

To you, once loved and for ever, from whom I part
Not because fate is blind, or the heart cold,
But because the world is neither yours nor mine,
Not even ourselves, not even what is dearest,
I offer what I can, my living moment,
My human span.