Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A long forgotten poem

On Sunday night I was surprised, and delighted, to see a girl visiting my church who I used to go to church with in Brisbane, currently on furlough from her life as a missionary in an undisclosed location in Eurasia. We hugged and caught up on about ten years of life.

Then sometime yesterday while I was sitting here at my desk I found myself having flashbacks of life in Brisbane long ago. It was a creative gang I hung around with in those days. Those were the people who gave to me the idea of a port and poetry evening, and there were nights in parks and by water of fire-twirling and music and parties decked out with tables for artistic creations. For some reason I had a memory of one particular gathering, at a house lived in by Frances and siblings, which had one such art table set up in the corner of the room. The idea was that during the evening you could sit down and draw or paint, then hang the result on a string across the room. I remember taking a spell there.

I must have been lacking in original ideas that evening, because I have a vague memory that I simply did a stylised version of a print that was hanging on the wall in front of me, which may or may not have been The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, probably in the days before The Kiss by Klimt was ubiquitous. But then, in a fit of some kind of antagonism towards my own doodling, I scribbled these lines underneath it:

It is not fantasy’s hot fire ...
It liveth not in fierce desire ...
It is the secret sympathy ...

But as these lines came to me yesterday, I struggled and thought what is that poem? I used to know it, and now I don’t even remember what it is. Thankfully Google was at my finger tips, and I soon reminded myself that is a portion of the Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott. So, here more of it. I believe I wrote this in a wedding card or two that year.

True love ’s the gift which God has given
To man alone beneath the heaven:
It is not fantasy’s hot fire,
Whose wishes soon as granted fly;
It liveth not in fierce desire,
With dead desire it doth not die;
It is the secret sympathy,
The silver link, the silken tie,
Which heart to heart and mind to mind
In body and in soul can bind.

Sir Walter Scott, Lay of the Last Minstrel. Canto v. Stanza 13.

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