Counsel to Unreason

These lovers’ inklings which our loves enmesh,   
Lost to the cunning and dimensional eye,   
Though tenemented in the selves we see,   
Not more perforce than azure to the sky,   
Were necromancy-juggled to the flesh,   
And startled from no daylight you or me.

For trance and silvemess those moons commend,   
Which blanch the warm life silver-pale; or look   
What ghostly portent mist distorts from slight   
Clay shapes; the willows that the waters took   
Liquid and brightened in the waters bend,   
And we, in love’s reflex, seemed loved of right.

Then no more think to net forthwith love’s thing,   
But cast for it by spirit sleight-of-hand;
Then only in the slant glass contemplate,   
Where lineament outstripping line is scanned,   
Then on the perplexed text leave pondering,   
Love’s proverb is set down transliterate.

Léonie Adams, “Counsel to Unreason” from Poems: A Selection (New York: The Noonday Press, 1959). Used by permission of Judith Farr, Literary Executrix of the Estate of Léonie Adams.
Source: Poems: A Selection (The Noonday Press, 1959)
More Poems by Léonie Adams