Epithalamion

by Michael Longley

Read by Judy Rye

These are the small hours when
Moths by their fatal appetite
Which that brings them tapping to get in,
Are steered along the night
To where our window catches light.
Who hazard all to be
Where we, the only two it seems,
Inhabit so delightfully
A room it bursts its seams
And spills onto the lawn in beams,
Such visitors as these
Reflect with eyes like frantic stars
This garden’s brightest properties,
Cruising its corridors
Of light above the folded flowers,
Till our vicinity
Is rendered royal by their flight
Towards us, till more silently
The silent stars ignite,
Their aeons dwindling by a night,
And everything seems bent
On robing in this evening you
And me, all dark the element
Our light is earnest to,
All quiet gathered round us who,
When over the embankments
A train that’s loudly reprobate
Shoots from silence into silence
With easy eaccomodate
Its pandemonium, its freight.
I hold you close because
We have decided dark will be
For ever like this and because,
My love, already
The dark is growing elderly.
With dawn upon its way,
Punctually and as a rule,
The small hours widening into day,
Our room its vestibule
Before it fills all houses full,
We too must hazard all,
Switch off the lamp without a word
For the last of night assembled
Over it and unperturbed
By the moth that lies there littered,
And notice how the trees
Which took on anonymity
Are again in their huge histories
Displayed, that wherever we
Attempt and as far as we can see,
The flowers everywhere
Are withering, the stars dissolved,
Amalgamated in a glare,
Which last night were revolved
Discreetly round us – and, involved,
The two of us, in these
Which early morning has deformed,
Must hope that in new properties
We’ll find a uniform
To know each other truly by, or,
At the least, that these will,
When we rise, be seen with dawn
As remnant yet part raiment still,
Like flags that linger on
The sky when king and queen are gone.

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