The Love Poem

– Carol Ann Duffy

Till love exhausts itself, longs

for the sleep of words –

                                          my mistress’ eyes –

to lie on a white sheet, at rest

in the language –

                             let me count the ways –

or shrink to a phrase like an epitaph –

                                                                come live

with me –

or fall from its own high cloud as syllables

in a pool of verse –

                                    one hour with thee.

Till love gives in and speaks

in the whisper of art –

                                        dear heart,

how like you this? –

love’s lips pursed to quotation marks

kissing a line –

                             look in thy heart

and write –

love’s light fading, darkening,

black as ink on a page –

                                           there is a garden

in her face.

Till love is all in the mind –

                                                 O my America!

my new-found land –

or all in the pen

in the writer’s hand –

                                      behold, thou art fair –

not there, except in a poem,

known by heart like a prayer,

both near and far,

near and far –

                           the desire of the moth

for the star.

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