For Elizabeth

My morning’s mountain wears the lavish light
Of candid clouds and truth-engendered white.
Ah, heavens, spread your opalescent ray,
And open earth-blind eyes to boundless sight,
That love abide beyond the close of day!

And sip, O buds of May, the frigid dew!
Grow fairer, earth, to our yet waking view!
Long after bones are dust, the stars will say
That we were not found faithless or untrue,
That love abide beyond the close of day!

Come, let us walk beneath our secret bower
And pause to gather every precious flower
Life’s once-blown spring is gladsome to display.
The rain of grace is falling like a shower,
That love abide beyond the close of day!

Seek not the palimpsest of time to read
Nor alter what its pages have decreed.
The parchment of the past, let it decay:
Our manuscript has yet to dry. Take heed,
That love abide beyond the close of day!

When death’s cold hand unstrings my song-worn lyre,
And youth’s fair form lies stretch’d upon the pyre,
We two shall look across the windless bay
To catch the distant, everlasting fire,
That love abide beyond the close of day!

©Joseph Charles MacKenzie


Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet, the only American to have won Scottish International Poetry Competition. His poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), US News and World Report, Google News, and many other outlets. He writes primarily for the Society of Classical Poets (New York) and Trinacria (New York). MacKenzie has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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12 Responses

  1. David Watt

    The iambic pentameter and strongly romantic imagery reminds me of Keats. Very well done!

  2. James A. Tweedie

    “Rhyming?” Check.
    “Rhythmic?” Check.
    “Rhapsodic?” Check.
    “Lovely?” Check.
    The final verse? Exquisite.

  3. Amy Foreman

    This is beautiful, Mr. MacKenzie! I love all of it, but especially the phrase: “Our manuscript has yet to dry. . .”

  4. Leo Yankevich

    There is much that appeals in this poem: mastery of metre and rhyme, and of course a lofty theme, conjugal love. Yet I’d like see more range in the next poems posted here. I believe that your gift is so great that you can expand.

  5. Bruce E. Wren

    Another McKenzie beauty. SCP is graced to have such an accomplished poet on its site.

  6. David B. Gosselin

    Of the poems I’ve seen posted by you MacKenzie, I think this one is the best. I think your choice of language is elevated, but without sounding unnecessarily archaic, which I couldn’t help but feel with some other pieces. No one should have anything to reproach as far as meter or rhythm and rhyme, I think the challenge is a conceptual one at this point. You’ve shown that you can write very well; it’s fine writing, but I would agree with Leo here, let us see more range. As Shelley said in his Defense of Poetry, poetry is a vehicle by which one can communicate the most “profound ideas concerning man and nature.” But I think this means going beyond the simpler Romantic poetry or praising the beloved and weaving together beautiful images of nature. If one looks at Wordsworth and his Ode on an Intimation of Immortality or Keats and his Odes (if you compare them with what came before), there was a conceptual leap. At a certain point, each one of us has to grieve out more “Romantic” leanings and face what lies beyond such ditties and images. In the words of Keats “She swells with beauty – Beauty that must die.”

    Keats was 24 when he composed his Odes.

    I wouldn’t end this post without giving an indication of what I mean by all this, so here it is:

    The article concerns the nature of Keats’ Odes and the miracle of that young man, who was able to effect such a profound change in his being at such a tender age. Hope you like.

    The piece written by the poet Daniel Leach, who is himself in my opinion an outstanding poet in who can back up what he says. He recently published his “Ode: Spring Mourning” which I think you’ll appreciate.

    Look forward to reading your future posts.

  7. E. V.

    Beautiful, simply beautiful! J. C. M., you are an inspiration to reader and poet alike.

  8. C.B. Anderson


    I especially like your back-door usage of the vanishing subjunctive mood (“that love abide”). It’s funny, but I’ve gotten used to your English sonnets, which are always lucid, lucent, and faithfully tied to your view of the purpose of Creation. There’s only one other author I have read that does this as well as you do, and that is Yakov Azriel. The difference is that he speaks of Judaism, and that his sonnets are mostly in the Italian style. As for the calls exhorting you to demonstrate more range, that’s something you will have to take up with yourself. If I only see more of the same, I won’t be disappointed.

  9. Fr. Richard Libby

    This is exceptionally good, Mr. MacKenzie. Congratulations!


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