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The Sea to Venus

The sea that carried her
Cries on the shore,
For that god married her
Who lives for war

And for no gorgeous limb
Can keep in bed
But must make the sun dim
As though it bled

And the poor earth tremble
As though afraid
When his troops assemble
To ply their trade.

Those waves whose shining spray,
Whose curving sides,
Whose everlasting sway,
Whose constant tides

Poured glory, force and grace
To round her form,
Those breasts and thighs, that face
That stills the storm,

And on a leaning breeze
Sent her to land
That our loves’ woes and ease
Be in her hand

As once the fruit in Eve’s
For which we fell;
That same sea groans and grieves
That on its swell

Forge fleets of conquerors,
Keel after keel
Whose wake is cankerous
And does not heal.

The waves break white and green
With ceaseless sound
Sent to the gentle queen
They ran aground:

“Deliver us from Mars,
No more a knight –
A baby’s body chars
To show his right.

No hero with a face
To face down death,
Even the cold of space
Chills to his breath.

Deliver us from Mars,
Queen of delight,
Whose arms would blot the stars.
Hold him tonight

And fold him in your rose
Where courage learns
The greater hearts are those
Where great love burns.”

John Gibbens, from The Promise


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