“As You Came from the Holy Land ….”


[Gateway of Walsingham Priory – from Robert Chambers – The Book of Days – A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities… (1832)]


As you came from the holy land
Of Walsingham,
Met you not with my true love
By the way as you came?

“How shall I know your true love,
That have met many one,
I went to the holy land,
That have come, that have gone?”

She is neither white, nor brown,
But as the heavens fair;
There is none hath a form so divine
In the earth, or the air.

“Such a one did I meet, good sir,
Such an angelic face,
Who like a queen, like a nymph, did appear
By her gait, by her grace.”

She hath left me here all alone,
All alone, as unknown,
Who sometimes did me lead with herself,
And me loved as her own.

“What’s the cause that she leaves you alone,
And a new way doth take,
Who loved you once as her own,
And her joy did you make?”

I have lov’d her all my youth;
But now old, as you see,
Love likes not the falling fruit
From the withered tree.

Know that Love is a careless child,
And forgets promise past;
He is blind, he is deaf when he list,
And in faith never fast.

His desire is a dureless content,
And a trustless joy:
He is won with a world of despair,
And is lost with a toy.

Of womenkind such indeed is the love,
Or the word love abus’d,
Under which many childish desires
And conceits are excus’d.

But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.


AG: (The sonnet breath) or the breath of “As I Came Back From Walsingham” [“As You Came from the Holy Land…” – by Sir Walter Raleigh]  (that little poem that I thought was the nicest breath), that real delicate phrasing (where is that? “..Walsingham”? does anybody know?..) I want to go back to that…(We went over this (that particular poem) before)..

“As you came from the holy land/ Of Walsingham,/Met you not with my true love,/By the way as you came?” – It’s that little caesura there – “By the way as you came?” – and “That have come, that have gone?” in the second stanza – Just that little simple squiggle of.. pause, that little delicacy – “By the way as you came?””, “That have come, that have gone?” – that’s so gently.. gently delicate, talking about his ethereal love, that it practically becomes air (“By the way as you came?”), but it’s permanent, and is objective, is an emotion objectified. I was using this one line as an example of an emotion objectified that would endure (and what I mean by an emotion objectfied is that it’s so delicate that there’s a pause, a little balanced pause, perfection) ( “By the way as you came?”, “By the way as you came?”, “In the earth, or the air”, “By her gait, by her grace”).

For a repeated exact-breath formula for that suspended, delicate light emotion of complete balanced joy between lovers (which everybody has felt here, at one time or other, once at least, in their lifetime) -light as ashes, so that it would be possible for this line to survive giant metallic buildings and concrete and sphinxes – just that rhythm to survive, because it’s an archetypal breath, it’s an archetypal heart rhythm, so there’s something that involves, like, a feeling of the breath coming down into the heart, unobstructed breath into the heart (because the feelings in the upper abdomen are unobstructed and are radiantly gentle) . So the line has a kind of gentle radiance  (“By the way as you came?”). So, a balance, pretty balance


[August Rodin (1840-1917) – The Eternal Idol (c.1890-1893)]

Then the image I compared it to – a sculpture – was that sculpture of Rodin , where the girl is nearly naked..the guy is kneeling naked in front of the girl, kissing her belly (just his lips going up to her belly, and his arms are behind his back, and they are both naked). You know that sculpture by Rodin? Anybody? – Well it’s a major image in the twentieth-century. It’s one of the few breakthroughs of absolute tenderness, and the naked girl (little girl too) who’s..sixteen maybe – and the guy? – I don’t know how old he is, maybe sixteen? seventeen? – And he’s just on his knees and trying to.. you know.. totally naked in white marble. Really pretty people. (And he’s just, leaning in, kissing her, like, on the breast, looking up…) So it’s just a delicate touch of marble on marble, the same balance, You know, like earth at rest, suspended in the sun’s, suspended in the sun’s beams.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding approximately twenty-five-and-three-quarter minutes in]


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