The Explorer

A poem by John Le Gay Brereton


Dearest, when I left your side,
I stood a moment, hesitating,
And plunged. The boiling tide
Of darkness took me, and down I went
Swift as a bird with folded wing,
And upward sent
The bubbles of my vital breath
That shuddered from my secret deeps
To freedom and light;
Then, dimly, on my sight
Opened the still abode of living death.
Amid the mire,
In which invisibly sightless horror creeps,
Sat, each intent on his own woe,
The host that burns with inward fire,
Crowded like monuments of memorial stone
Beneath a pitchy sky
Where even the flash of tempest dare not show,
Yet each of them alone;
And each was I.


Breathless I struggled up,
As if the gloom had arms to clutch at me
And drag and hold,
Until the daylight’s gold
Shook faintly above my dizzy head
And parted suddenly, that I might see
The sky, a sheltering cup
Of hopeful azure, and your eyes of blue,
One promise and yet two
Of harbouring bliss;
And your lips parted and said,
“Shall not we twain
Find joy upon joy on earth
Together and see,
In the kinship of all that has birth
From the mutual reach of desire,
A joy beyond this,
A fire at the heart of the fire?”
And we clung till our spirit was free
As the flame of a kiss.


So we soared and the earth fell away, and the region of night
Was melted in limitless day of ineffable light
Till the myriad souls of the dead were united as we,
Themselves, and yet merged in the spread of an infinite sea
The joy that is life, and around us, below and above,
The One that all lovers have found, our eternity, Love.

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