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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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Elaine Fletcher Chapman Reads "I Have No House For Love to Shelter Him"

Elaine Fletcher Chapman Reads "I Have No House For Love to Shelter Him"

Houses and structures are among the recurring metaphors in Cather's writing as Bernice Slote notes in her introduction to April Twilights [University of Nebraska: 1962]. "One pleasure in viewing the whole work of the writer (if he is an artist) is to recognize the accumulated complexity and richness that may develop from single first notes or chords," Slote writes. "It is somehow satisfying to see that in the artist the large designs come out of the truth of his being. For example, we find in the poems, along with the pastoral scenes, a recurring metaphor of houses and rooms that will be enlarged into the symbolic structures of The Professor's House (1925)." Slote notes the many poems in April Twilights that reference houses and structures, including "I Have No House for Love to Shelter Him."


Since thou came'st not at morn, come not at even; 
Let night close peaceful where it hath begun.
Affrighten not the restful stars from heaven
With futile after-glimpses of the sun.
My heart inclines me, but my lands are wasted,
My treasure spent, and evening closes dim;
Spring's fair demesne the chilling frost hath tasted—
I have no house for Love to shelter him.

No raiment fair to clothe his limbs so tender;
No spicéd wines to cool his burning lip;
No garlands wherewithal to crown his splendor;
No lute to tune to songful fellowship.
No pillow for the twilights of his dreaming;
No roses on these brows, with winter grim,
Wherewith to strew his couch, as were beseeming—
I have no house for Love to shelter him.

Ride on, and tarry not, O kingly stranger!
This darkened chamber is a house of prayer;
A place of vigils, and to youth a danger—
'Twas fair at morning, but thou wert not there.
Who woos the sapless winter for his lover,
Or hangs his garlands at a cloister grim?
Oh! Bid me not my nakedness discover,—
I have no house for Love to shelter him!

ELAINE FLETCHER CHAPMAN lives near the Chesapeake Bay. She has a new collection, Reservoir, forthcoming late 2020 (Saint Julian Press). Previous books include Hunger for Salt (Saint Julian Press) and Double Solitude (Green River Press).

You read more about Elaine HERE.