By Alfred Noyes
Now, in a breath, we’ll burst those gates of gold,
And ransack heaven before our moment fails.
Now, in a breath, before we, too, grow old,
We’ll mount and sing and spread immortal sails.
It is not time that makes eternity.
Love and an hour may quite out-span the years,
And give us more to hear and more to see
Than life can wash away with all its tears.
Dear, when we part, at last, that sunset sky
Shall not be touched with deeper hues than this;
But we shall ride the lightning ere we die
And seize our brief infinitude of bliss,
With time to spare for all that heaven can tell,
While eyes meet eyes, and look their last farewell.
Source: Collected Poems (1947)
Alfred Noyes was born in England and attended Oxford, where he left before completing his degree. He published his first book of poems, The Loom of Years, at age 21, and published five more volumes of poetry in the next five years. In 1914, he began teaching at Princeton University, and became noted for his criticisms of such Modernist writers as James Joyce. Though his early work often evokes fantastic, dream-like, storybook emotions, his later poetry increasingly deals with religious themes. In “The Highwayman,” one of his best-known poems, Noyes displays his skill at writing narrative poetry reminiscent of his two biggest influences, Wordsworth and Tennyson.
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It’s true: I almost never
smile, but that doesn’t mean
I’m not in love: my heart
is that black violin
played slowly. You know that
moment late in the solo
when the voice
is so pure you feel
the blood in it: the wound
and complete surrender. That’s
In this dream,
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They are spelling
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is the one
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Back Up Quick They’re Hippies
That was the year we drove
into the commune in Cornwall.
“Jesus Jim,” mam said,
“back up quick they’re hippies.”
Through the car window,
tents, row after row, flaps open,
long-haired men and women
curled around each other like babies
and the babies themselves
wandered naked across the grass.
In the warmth of night I put feet to my plan: waited
for my brothers to sleep. They’d spent the day
sharpening their hooks, repairing the great net,
filling gourds with fresh water. They’d bundled
taro wrapped in leaves sitting below the cross seats.