So many deeply beautiful and haunting poems from Thom Gunn (1929-2004) in The Man with Night Sweats.
“Philemon and Baucis”
love without shadows–W.C.W.
Two trunks like bodies, bodies like twined trunks
Supported by their wooden hug. Leaves shine
In tender habit at the extremities.
Truly each other’s, they have embraced so long
Their barks have met and wedded in one flow
Blanketing both. Time lights the handsome bulk.
The gods were grateful, and for comfort given
Gave comfort multiplied a thousandfold.
Therefore the couple leached into that soil
The differences prolonged through their late vigour
That kept their exchanges salty and abrasive,
And found, with loves balancing equally,
Full peace of mind. They put unease behind them
A long time back, a long time back forgot
How each woke separate through the pale grey night,
A long time back forgot the days when each
—Riding the other’s nervous exuberance—
Knew the slow thrill of learning how to love
What, gradually revealed, becomes itself,
Expands, unsheathes, as the keen rays explore:
Invented in the continuous revelation.
They have drifted into a perpetual nap,
The peace of trees that all night whisper nothings.