At Belvoir

A poem by James Thomson (BV)

My thoughts go back to last July,
Sweet happy thoughts and tender;
“The bridal of the earth and sky,”
A day of noble splendour;
A day to make the saddest heart
In joy a true believer;
When two good friends we roamed apart
The shady walks of Belvoir.

A maiden like a budding rose,
Unconscious of the golden
And fragrant bliss of love that glows
Deep in her heart infolden;
A Poet old in years and thought,
Yet not too old for pleasance,
Made young again and fancy-fraught
By such a sweet friend's presence.

The other two beyond our ken
Most shamefully deserted,
And far from all the ways of men
Their stealthy steps averted:
Of course our Jack would go astray,
Erotic and erratic;
But Mary! well, I own the day
Was really too ecstatic.

We roamed with many a merry jest
And many a ringing laughter;
The slow calm hours too rich in zest
To heed before and after:
Yet lingering down the lovely walks
Soft strains anon came stealing,
A finer music through our talks
Of sweeter, deeper feeling:

Yes, now and then a quiet word
Of seriousness dissembling
In smiles would touch some hidden chord
And set it all a-trembling:
I trembled too, and felt it strange;
Could I be in possession
Of music richer in its range
Than yet had found expression?

The cattle standing in the mere,
The swans upon it gliding,
The sunlight on the waters clear,
The radiant clouds dividing;
The solemn sapphire sky above,
The foliage lightly waving,
The soft air's Sabbath peace and love
To satisfy all craving.

We mapped the whole fair region out
As Country of the Tender,
From first pursuit in fear and doubt
To final glad surrender:
Each knoll and arbour got its name,
Each vista, covert, dingle;
No young pair now may track the same
And long continue single!

And in the spot most thrilling-sweet
Of all this Love-Realm rosy
Our truant pair had found retreat,
Unblushing, calm and cosy:
Where seats too wide for one are placed,
And yet for two but narrow,
It's “Let my arm steal round your waist,
And be my winsome marrow!”

Reclining on a pleasant lea
Such tender scenes rehearsing,
A freakish fit seized him and me
For wildly foolish versing:
We versed of this, we versed of that,
A pair of mocking sinners,
While our lost couple strayed or sat
Oblivious of their dinners.

But what was strange, our maddest rhymes
In all their divagations
Were charged and over-charged at times
With deep vaticinations:
I yearn with wonder at the power
Of Poetry prophetic
Which in my soul made that blithe hour
With this hour sympathetic.

For though we are in winter now,
My heart is full of summer:
Old Year, old Wish, have made their bow;
I welcome each new-comer.
“The King is dead, long live the King!
The throne is vacant never!”
Is true, I read, of everything,
So of my heart forever!

My thoughts go on to next July,
More happy thoughts, more tender;
“The bridal of the earth and sky,”
A day of perfect splendour;
A day to make the saddest heart
In bliss a firm believer;
When two True Loves may roam apart
The shadiest walks of Belvoir.

There may be less of merry jest
And less of ringing laughter,
Yet life be much more rich in zest
And richer still thereafter;
The love-scenes of that region fair
Have very real rehearsing,
And tremulous kisses thrill the air
Far sweetlier than sweet versing;

The bud full blown at length reveal
Its deepest golden burning;
The heart inspired with love unseal
Its inmost passionate yearning:
The music of the hidden chord
At length find full expression;
The Seraph of the Flaming Sword
Assume divine possession.

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