Sonnet (with a copy of Mademoiselle de Maupin)

by Algernon Charles Swinburne

This is the golden book of spirit and sense,
      The holy writ of beauty; he that wrought
      Made it with dreams and faultless words and thought
That seeks and finds and loses in the dense
Dim air of life that beauty's excellence
      Wherewith love makes one hour of life distraught
      And all hours after follow and find not aught.
Here is that height of all love's eminence
Where man may breathe but for a breathing-space
      And feel his soul burn as an altar-fire
      To the unknown God of unachieved desire,
And from the middle mystery of the place
      Watch lights that break, hear sounds as of a quire,
But see not twice unveiled the veiled God's face.

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