hard is the world that does not give to every love a place

two young men, entangled, vintage, gay

Thy voice, as tender as the light
That shivers low at eve –
Thy hair, where myriad flashes bright
Do in and outward weave –
Thy charms in their diversity
Half frighten and astonish me.

Thine eyes, that hold a mirth subdued
Like deep pools scattering fire –
Mine dare not meet them in their mood,
For fear of my desire,
Lest thou that secret do descry
Which evermore I must deny.

Hard is the world that does not give
To every love a place;
Hard is the power that bids us live
A life bereft of grace –
Hard, hard to lose thy figure, dear,
My star and my religion here!


Text: To a Friend, James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
Image: photographer, sitters, unknown,
Daguerreotype circa 1850, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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  1. Another beautiful post. It’s impressive how your photographs & imagined histories reference bygone eras of love while remaining remarkably relevant and current. 🙂

    Posted January 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  2. Oh my god, that poem!

    So glad to have you back, my friend. Great post.

    Posted January 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  3. D. H. Mader

    Indeed a striking poem – albeit mis-attributed. It is not by the 19th century American author, but his great grandson, James Fenimore Cooper, Jr. (1892-1918). It originally appeared in his posthumous collection Afterglow (New Haven, Yale U. Press, 1919; p. 40-1) under the title “To a Friend”, and was then reprinted in Edward Mark Slocum’s anthology of homophile poetry, Men and Boys, in 1924.

    Posted August 26, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

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