I can’t believe you’ve come back,
like the train I missed so badly, barely,
which stopped & returned for me. It scared me,
humming backwards along the track.

I rise to make a supper succulent
for the cut of your mouth, your bite of wine
so sharp, you remember you were mine.
You may resist, you will relent.

At home in fire, desire is bread
whose flour, water, salt and yeast,
not yet confused, are still, at least,
in the soil, the sea, the mine, the dead.

I have all I longed for, you
in pleasure. You missed me, your body swelling.
Once more, you lie with me, smelling
of almonds, as the poisoned do.


Brenda Shaughnessy




Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again.
For then the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,
A messenger from radiant climes,
And smile on thy new world, and be
As kind to others as to me.

Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth.
And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say My love! why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again.
For then the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.


Matthew Arnold




Some may have blamed you that you took away

The verses that could move them on the day

When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind

With lightning, you went from me, and I could find

Nothing to make a song about but kings,

Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things

That were like memories of you—but now

We’ll out, for the world lives as long ago;

And while we’re in our laughing, weeping fit,

Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit.

But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,

My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.


W B Yeats

Project for a Fainting


Oh, yes, the rain is sorry. Unfemale, of course, the rain is
with her painted face still plain and with such pixel you’d never see

it in the pure freckling, the lacquer of her. The world
is lighter with her recklessness, a handkerchief so wet it is clear.

To you. My withered place, this frumpy home (nearer
to the body than to evening) miserable beloved. I lie tender

and devout with insomnia, perfect on the center pillow past
midnight, sick with the thought of another year

of waking, solved and happy, it has never been this way! Believe
strangers who say the end is close for what could be closer?

You are my stranger and see how we have closed. On both ends.
Night wets me all night, blind, carried.

And watermarks. The plough of the rough on the slick,
love, a tendency toward fever. To break. To soil.

Would I dance with you? Both forever and rather die.
It would be like dying, yes. Yes I would.

I have loved the slaking of your forgetters, your indifferent
hands on my loosening. Through a thousand panes of glass

not all transparent, and the temperature.
I felt that. What you say is not less than that.



Brenda Shaughnessy


Art – Jack Vettriano

The Transformation





I remain free

my own lost saviour

a follower of no-one

sorcering a new novena.





I still storms

in steadfast spirit

a respectable sinner

proclaiming the illicit.





I demure uncertain

face reveals and veils

heart throes stone to flesh

keeping close my seven devils.





I am graced

with all virtues from history

my archetype immortalised

amidst this scripture of mystery.




© Katypoetess 2016



Love and Sleep


Lying asleep between the strokes of night
I saw my love lean over my sad bed,
Pale as the duskiest lily’s leaf or head,
Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite,
Too wan for blushing and too warm for white,
But perfect-coloured without white or red.
And her lips opened amorously, and said –
I wist not what, saving one word – Delight.

And all her face was honey to my mouth,
And all her body pasture to mine eyes;
The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire,
The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south,
The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs
And glittering eyelids of my soul’s desire.


AC Swinburne

Storm of Silence


As the indecorous breeze does billow

ebb and flow of his dreams,

swelling a deep desire

for her to return

within each tide

of hesitation.


As the unconscious ark of salvation,

sinks slow beneath his sleep,

drowning a deep desire

for her to return

he lies laconic

of malediction.



© Katypoetess 2016







He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead



Were you but lying cold and dead,
And lights were paling out of the West,
You would come hither, and bend your head,
And I would lay my head on your breast;
And you would murmur tender words,
Forgiving me, because you were dead:
Nor would you rise and hasten away,
Though you have the will of wild birds,
But know your hair was bound and wound
About the stars and moon and sun:
O would, beloved, that you lay
Under the dock-leaves in the ground,
While lights were paling one by one.


W B Yeats

She Walks In Beauty


She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!


Lord Byron

In an Artist’s Studio


One face looks out from all his canvasses,
One self same figure sits or walks or leans;
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,
A saint, an angel; – every canvass means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light;
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.


Christina Rossetti

Paradise Lost – Book I

Geometric Urania in Libourne by Boulogne, le Jeune (1654-1733).

Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,

In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth

Rose out of Chaos: or if Sion Hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flow’d

Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence

Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,

That with no middle flight intends to soar

Above th’ Aonian Mount, while it pursues

Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.

And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer

Before all Temples th’ upright heart and pure,

Instruct me, for Thou know’st; Thou from the first

Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread

Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss

And mad’st it pregnant: What in me is dark

Illumin, what is low raise and support;

That to the highth of this great Argument

I may assert Eternal Providence,

And justifie the wayes of God to men.


Exerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost (Book 1)

Go From Me


Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore, ..
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes, the tears of two.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I Died for Beauty



I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth – the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.



His unravelling – of sacred shroud.


The suffocation of

her melancholic madness

by cloth of self-belief

blesses a new beginning.


The emancipation from

Poetess to temple Papess

his ruin miraculously raised

to unrepentant penitent.


The revealing complete

unveils fervent holiness,

his new bride of a Christ

in divine ambiguity.


His lost gospel – finally found.


© Katypoetess 2016

The Best Thing In The World


What’s the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you’re loved again.
What’s the best thing in the world?
–Something out of it, I think.


Elizabeth Barrett Browning