by James McAuley
I walked abroad at night
Out of the world's heat where our hopes were dying.
Low in the northern sky, full-spanning bright,
The Swan was flying
Seaward, as if to quit the shore
That heeded its design no more.
I cried: Do not depart,
Bright image of desire: if you forsake us
Dishonour in our deeds, death in our art
Will overtake us;
Your wing-beats, O celestial Swan,
Are all that makes the heart go on.
It seemed that it replied:
Do not complain if absence rules the season;
The works of men are freighted on a tide
Whose secret reason
Moves also the bright signs above:
Turn back and fight the wars of love.
Last updated January 14, 2019