The Love Poem

By Carol Ann Duffy

Till love exhausts itself, longs
for the sleep of words –
my mistress’ eyes –
to lie on a white sheet, at rest
in the language –
let me count the ways –
or shrink to a phrase like an epitaph –
come live
with me –
or fall from its own high cloud as syllables
in a pool of verse –
one hour with thee.

Till love gives in and speaks
in the whisper of art –
dear heart,
how like you this? –
love’s lips pursed to quotation marks
kissing a line –
look in thy heart
and write –
love’s light fading, darkening,
black as ink on a page –
there is a garden
in her face.

Till love is all in the mind –
O my America!
my new-found land –
or all in the pen
in the writer’s hand –
behold, thou art fair –
not there, except in a poem,
known by heart like a prayer,
both near and far,
near and far –
the desire of the moth
for the star.