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Only Gossamer My Gown

by Valentine Wolfe

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, And Mourners to and fro Kept treading – treading – till it seemed That Sense was breaking through – I felt a Funeral, As all the Heavens were a Bell I felt a Funeral And when they all were seated, A Service, like a Drum – Kept beating – beating – till I thought My Mind was going numb – And then I heard them lift a Box And creak across my Soul With those same Boots of Lead, again, Then Space – began to toll, As all the Heavens were a Bell, And Being, but an Ear, And I, and Silence, some strange Race Wrecked, solitary, here – And then a Plank in Reason, broke, And I dropped down, and down – And hit a World, at every plunge, And Finished knowing – then –
The Soul selects her own Society — Then — shuts the Door — To her divine Majority — Obtrude no more — Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing — At her low Gate — Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling Upon her Mat — I’ve known her — from an ample nation — Choose One — Then — close the Valves of her attention — Like Stone —
Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality. We slowly drove – He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility – We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess – in the Ring – We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – We passed the Setting Sun – Or rather – He passed Us – The Dews drew quivering and Chill – For only Gossamer, my Gown – My Tippet – only Tulle – We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground – The Roof was scarcely visible – The Cornice – in the Ground – Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity –
Now I knew I lost her — Not that she was gone — But Remoteness travelled On her Face and Tongue. Alien, though adjoining As a Foreign Race — Traversed she though pausing Latitudeless Place. Elements Unaltered — Universe the same But Love's transmigration — Somehow this had come — Henceforth to remember Nature took the Day I had paid so much for — His is Penury Not who toils for Freedom Or for Family But the Restitution Of Idolatry.
The Frost of Death was on the Pane — “Secure your Flower" said he. Like Sailors fighting with a Leak We fought Mortality. Our passive Flower we held to Sea — To Mountain — To the Sun — Yet even on his Scarlet shelf To crawl the Frost begun — We pried him back Ourselves we wedged Himself and her between, Yet easy as the narrow Snake He forked his way along Till all her helpless beauty bent And then our wrath begun — We hunted him to his Ravine We chased him to his Den — We hated Death and hated Life And nowhere was to go — Than Sea and continent there is A larger — it is Woe —
Where I have lost, I softer tread- I sow sweet flower from garden bed- I pause above that vanished head- And mourn. Whom I have lost, I pious guard From accent harsh, or ruthless word- Feeling as if their pillow heard, Though stone! When I have lost, you’ll know by this- A Bonnet black, A dusk surplice- A little tremor in my voice Like this! Why, I have lost, the people know Who dressed in frocks of purest snow Went home a century ago Next Bliss!
This World is not Conclusion. A Species stands beyond - Invisible, as Music - But positive, as Sound - It beckons, and it baffles - Philosophy, don’t know - And through a Riddle, at the last - Sagacity, must go - To guess it, puzzles scholars - To gain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown - Faith slips - and laughs, and rallies - Blushes, if any see - Plucks at a twig of Evidence - And asks a Vane, the way - Much Gesture, from the Pulpit - Strong Hallelujahs roll - Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul -
Much Madness is divinest Sense - To a discerning Eye - Much Sense - the starkest Madness - ’Tis the Majority In this, as all, prevail - Assent - and you are sane - Demur - you’re straightway dangerous - And handled with a Chain - The saddest noise, the sweetest noise, The maddest noise that grows,- The birds, they make it in the spring, At night’s delicious close, Between the March and April line- That magical frontier Beyond which summer hesitates, Almost too heavenly near. It makes us think of all the dead That sauntered with us here, By separation’s sorcery Made cruelly more dear. It makes us think of what we had, And what we now deplore. We almost wish those siren throats Would go and sing no more. An ear can break a human heart As quickly as a spear. We wish the ear had not a heart So dangerously near. With Midnight to the North of Her- And Midnight to the South of Her- And Maelstrom- in the Sky- Much Madness is divinest Sense - To a discerning Eye - Much Sense - the starkest Madness - ’Tis the Majority In this, as all, prevail - Assent - and you are sane - Demur - you’re straightway dangerous - And handled with a Chain -
All overgrown by cunning moss, All interspersed with weed, The little cage of “Currer Bell” In quiet “Haworth” laid. This bird- observing others When frosts too sharp became Retire to other latitudes- Quietly did the same- But differed in returning- Since Yorkshire hills are green- Yet not in all the nests I meet- Can Nightingale be seen- Gathered from many wanderings- Gethsemane can tell Thro’ what transporting anguish She reached the Asphodel! Soft fall the sounds of Eden Upon her puzzled ear- Oh what an afternoon for Heaven, When “Bronte” entered there!
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all - And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - And sore must be the storm - That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm - I’ve heard it in the chillest land - And on the strangest Sea - Yet - never - in Extremity, It asked a crumb - of me.
Wild nights - Wild nights! Were I with thee Wild nights should be Our luxury! Futile - the winds - To a Heart in port - Done with the Compass - Done with the Chart! Rowing in Eden - Ah - the Sea! Might I but moor - tonight - In thee!


released October 31, 2020


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Valentine Wolfe Greenville, South Carolina

Two morbidly fascinated musicians combining ambient solo bass, brutal distortion, electronica, and 18th century opera to tell a story of the macabre.

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