Sursum Corda


Conrad Aiken

Speak to us only with the killer's tongue,

The animal madness of the fierce and young:

and from that agony we'll learn to break

our human hearts, but for thy suffering's sake.

Then will the mind, exploring passion, learn

through all this burning world how thou dost burn:

in every particle, and hour, thy death,

in every painful leaf thy creative breath.

And thy stone's hardness, we will learn this too,

with our wet flesh, our flesh as soft as dew;

through this small looking-glass to guess at length,

the savage knowledges beyond our strength.

Whenever death's red hand unhusks a heart,

or tiger ice rips the meek hills apart,

there we lie down alone, and lonely spend

the spirit's silence to the spirit's end.

Lost from thy rock face to thy last abyss,

we faint in darkness for an age; yet this

ends in an hour; and in the sun with thee

we wear the rainbow and the rain, and see:

we break the numbers and the names, and see:

we are thyself, thy heart of light, and see.

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