And Day Brought Back My Night

I always liked this poem, but did not know that it had an epigraph nor that it was referring to Milton’s sonnet.

Geoffrey Brock

Whoever she was now kissed me,

Her lips like ice on my own;

I woke from the nightmare sweating –

Burning, freezing, alone.

And Day Brought Back My Night

It was so simple: you came back to me

And I was happy. Nothing seemed to matter

But that. That you had gone away from me

And lived for days with him—it didn’t matter.

That I had been left to care for our old dog

And house alone—couldn’t have mattered less!

On all this, you and I and our happy dog

Agreed. We slept. The world was worriless.

I woke in the morning, brimming with old joys

Till the fact-checker showed up, late, for work

And started in: Item: it’s years, not days.

Item: you had no dog. Item: she isn’t back,

In fact, she just remarried. And oh yes, item: you

Left her, remember? I did? I did. (I do.)

John Milton

Sonnet 23: Methought I saw my late espoused saint

Methought I saw my late espoused saint

       Brought to me, like Alcestis*, from the grave,

       Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,

       Rescu’d from death by force, though pale and faint.

Mine, as whom wash’d from spot of child-bed taint

       Purification in the old Law did save,

       And such as yet once more I trust to have

       Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,

Came vested all in white, pure as her mind;

       Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight

       Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d

So clear as in no face with more delight.

       But Oh! as to embrace me she inclin’d,

       I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.

*Alcestis is known for having been married to Admetus. Admetus forgot to propitiate Artemis before the wedding and was all set to die early, but Apollo got the Fates drunk and they promised to accept a substitution. Admetus asked everyone, including his parents, and no one except Alcestis agreed to die in his stead. However, Admetus was still a good all boy liked by everyone, so Hercules went down to Hades and brought her back.

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