Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
137. A Pair of Lovers in the Street
 
By Arthur Adams
 
 
A PAIR of lovers in the street!
  I dare not mock: with reverence meet
My unforgetting heart I cheat.
 
Ah, God, spare me—so soon again
At the barred door to beat in vain,        5
And find their dalliance such fierce pain!
 
I, yearning up from Hell’s abyss,
See, dreaming through their worlds of bliss,
This Dante and his Beatrice!
 
For these the distant goal have won        10
For which God made the plasm and sun;
His patient labouring is done.
 
For these each Spring has been a bride,
And lonely worlds were spawned and died.
Chaos for them in birth-throes cried.        15
 
Far out in seas of Space forlorn
This crescent wave was slowly born
That thunders on the beach of morn.
 
Ah, they, so soon to be meshed in
The web of splendour, silken-thin,        20
The nebulae were set to spin!
 
Up the long path from joy to joy
Love led the way. Can aught destroy
The task that was the stars’ employ?
 
Their ecstasy to God is more        25
Than Lucifer at Heaven’s door
Entreating pardon for his war.
 
These two are gods, for, by love swayed,
They have God’s special task essayed,
And new worlds for their gladness made.        30
 
This little hour so lightly given
Makes earth too mean a place to live in,
And broken toys His Hell and Heaven.
 
All Time, expectant of their bliss,
Hangs fearful. Space through her abyss        35
Shudders if they this hour should miss.
 
For if their kiss they went without,
The stars would be a raining rout,
And time in anguish flicker out.
 
About God’s room from star to sun        40
A stealthy slippered Thing would run,
Quenching cold tapers one by one.
 
But they have kissed. Eternity,
Like a great clock, beats steadily
For these mazed fools—but not for me!        45
 
Of God’s wide universe the strands
They hold within their clinging hands;
The stars march on at their commands.
 
So from this moment blossom free
New universes tirelessly—        50
Aeons of unguessed ecstasy!
 
But I can only bow and beat
Vain hands about God’s mercy-seat,
And, still remembering, still entreat.
 
Surely my penance is complete!        55
The rack turns grimly when I meet
A pair of lovers on the street.
 

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