December 6th Birthday Love: Sylvia Townsend Warner

Sylvia Townsend Warner


Who chooses the music, turns the page,
Waters the geraniums on the window-ledge?
Who proxies my hand,
Puts on the mourning-ring in lieu of the diamond?

Who winds the trudging clock, who tears
Flimsy the empty date of calendars?
Who widow-hoods my senses
Lest they should meet the morning’s cheat defenseless?

Who valets me at nightfall, undresses me of another day,
Puts tidily and finally away?
And lets in darkness
To befriend my eyelids like an illusory caress?

I called him Sorrow when first he came,
But Sorrow is too narrow a name;
And though he has attended me all this long while
Habit will not do. Habit is servile.

He, inaudible, governs my days, impalpable,
Impels my hither and thither. I am his to command,
My times are in his hand.
Once in a dream I called him Azrael.

-Sylvia Townsend Warner

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