“You cannot live and keep free of briars”

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The Ivy Crown
-William Carlos Williams
The whole process is a lie,
        unless,
            crowned by excess,
It break forcefully,
        one way or another,
            from its confinement—
or find a deeper well.
        Antony and Cleopatra
            were right;
they have shown
        the way. I love you
            or I do not live
at all.

Daffodil time
         is past. This is
              summer, summer!
the heart says,
         and not even the full of it.
              No doubts
are permitted—
         though they will come
              and may
before our time
         overwhelm us.
              We are only mortal
but being mortal
         can defy our fate.
              We may
by an outside chance
         even win! We do not
              look to see
jonquils and violets
         come again
              but there are,
still,
         the roses!

Romance has no part in it.
         The business of love is
              cruelty which,
by our wills,
         we transform
              to live together.
It has its seasons,
         for and against,
              whatever the heart
fumbles in the dark
         to assert
              toward the end of May.
Just as the nature of briars
         is to tear flesh,
              I have proceeded
through them.
         Keep
              the briars out,
they say.
         You cannot live
              and keep free of
briars.

Children pick flowers.
         Let them.
              Though having them
in hand
         they have no further use for them
              but leave them crumpled
at the curb's edge.

At our age the imagination
         across the sorry facts
              lifts us
to make roses
         stand before thorns.
              Sure
love is cruel
         and selfish
              and totally obtuse—
at least, blinded by the light,
         young love is.
              But we are older,
I to love
         and you to be loved,
              we have,
no matter how,
         by our wills survived
              to keep
the jeweled prize
         always
              at our finger tips.
We will it so
         and so it is
              past all accident.

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