Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 353. Hertha
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
353. Hertha
By Nora Chesson  (1871–1906)
  
I AM the spirit of all that lives,
Labours and loses and forgives.
My breath’s the wind among the reeds;
I’m wounded when a birch-tree bleeds.
I am the clay nest ’neath the eaves        5
And the young life wherewith it brims.
The silver minnow where it swims
Under a roof of lily-leaves
Beats with my pulses; from my eyes
The violet gathered amethyst.       10
I am the rose of winter skies,
The moonlight conquering the mist.
 
I am the bird the falcon strikes;
My strength is in the kestrel’s wing,
My cruelty is in the shrikes.       15
My pity bids the dock-leaves grow
Large, that a little child may know
Where he shall heal the nettle’s sting.
I am the snowdrop and the snow,
Dead amber, and the living fit—       20
The corn-sheaf and the harvester.
 
My craft is breathed into the fox
When, a red cub, he snarls and plays
With his red vixen. Yea, I am
The wolf, the hunter, and the lamb;       25
I am the slayer and the slain,
The thought new-shapen in the brain.
I am the ageless strength of rocks,
The weakness that is all a grace,
Being the weakness of a flower.       30
 
The secret on the dead man’s face
Written in his last living hour,
The endless trouble of the seas
That fret and struggle with the shore,
Strive and are striven with evermore—       35
The changeless beauty that they wear
Through all their changes—all of these
Are mine. The brazen streets of hell
I know, and heaven’s gold ways as well.
Mortality, eternity,       40
Change, death, and life are mine—are me.

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