12 The Eve of St. Mark

Stroke the small silk with your whispering hands, godmother, nod and nod from the half-gloom; broochlight intermittent between the fronds, the owl immortal in its crystal dome. Along the mantelpiece veined lustres trill, the clock discounts us with a telling chime. Familiar ministrants, clerks-of-appeal, burnish upon the threshold of the dream: churchwardens in wing-collars bearing scrolls of copyhold well-tinctured and well-tied. Your photo-albums loved by the boy-king preserve in sepia waterglass the souls of distant cousins, virgin till they died, and lost the delicate suitors who could sing. Geoffrey Hill

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