These Images Remain

by MAY SARTON

1

THESE images remain, these classic landscapes
That lie immense and quiet behind eyes
Enlarged by love to think only in shapes
That compass time and frame the changing skies,
Triumph of arch, of spire, triumph of trees,
The pure perspective, the poignant classic scene.
Pursued by time, still we were given these.
Keen the flames of spring were frozen green,
Fountains suspended crystal in the air
And every’ open square could make us glad.
Where we stood once, once free to stand and stare
Now the imagination wanders like a god.
These images exist. They have not changed
Though we are caught by time, by time estranged.

2

HERE are the peaceful days we never knew.
Here are the leaves. Here are the silent flowers
And you are reading poems while I sew.
The hours are light. We do not count the hours.
There is no need of words. Our lives will do,
Long long enough to learn all of our love
While time, the river, flows gently below
Having no false eternities to prove.
The night is full of unspent tenderness
And in its silences we rest apart.
There is no need of words with which to bless
The daily bread, the wine of the full heart.
Here are the peaceful days we cannot share.
Here is our peace at last, and we not there.

3

BUT parting is return, the coming home,
Parting in space and yet the dearest meeting,
Where we most seem to go, there most do come
And give each other an eternal greeting.
Love is restored to nobleness and peace,
Rooted in reason as abstract and pure
As the equation where all questions cease,
Love with its deepest meaning to endure, Endure and grow through all anxiety
Until when standing on the very quicksand
Passion itself finds roots again in pity;
We take each other gently by the hand,
In deeper need demanding deeper union,
Parting become arrival and communion.

4

WHAT angel can I leave, gentle and stern,
What healing presence to be to you at last
The end of every journey, the absolute return,
The future bringing gifts out of the past?
What angel can I take, gentle and pure,
To make of absence an open place of joy,
Now the perspective grows in depth, mature
Untroubled love no parting can destroy,
As a great formal square where centuries
Only enrich the earlier design,
And cast a deeper shadow from the frieze
Of later leaves and clarify the line.
The angel of these spaces as we part
Opens the sleeping city of the heart.

5

HERE let me lie, quiet upon your shoulder,
Not child, nor lover, but in meditation
Close to your heart, and as our love grows older
Union and absence are set in relation.
Now I am really lost, empty and still,
Having gone further than the last caress
And deeper with you than desire or will
To come into this strangest nothingness
Pure and detached like sleep itself or prayer
When all the asking fervor has been spent,
The self all given and all taken there,
The noisy little self at last is silent
And ready to receive the healing kiss,
Not God, nor love, but each contained in this.