The Work

A great light is the man who knows the woman he loves
A great light is the woman who knows the man she loves
And carries the light into room after room arousing
The sleepers and looking hard into the face of each
And then sends them asleep again with a kiss
Or a whole night of love
                                             and goes on and on until
The man and woman who carry the great lights of the
Knowledge of the one lover enter the room
                                                                               toward which
Their light is sent and fit the one and the other torch
In a high candelabrum and there is such light
That children leap up
                                         unless the sea swallow them
In the crossing or hatred or war against which do not
Pray only but be vigilant and set your hand to the work.

Allen Grossman, "The Work" from The Ether Dome and Other Poems: New and Selected (1979-1991). Copyright © 1991 by Allen Grossman.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: The Ether Dome and Other Poems: New and Selected (1979-1991) (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1991)
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