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A Clasp Of Hands

 SOFT, small, and sweet as sunniest flowers
That bask in heavenly heat
When bud by bud breaks, breathes, and cowers,
Soft, small, and sweet.
A babe's hands open as to greet The tender touch of ours And mock with motion faint and fleet The minutes of the new strange hours That earth, not heaven, must mete; Buds fragrant still from heaven's own bowers, Soft, small, and sweet.
A velvet vice with springs of steel That fasten in a trice And clench the fingers fast that feel A velvet viceÑ What man would risk the danger twice, Nor quake from head to heel? Whom would not one such test suffice? Well may we tremble as we kneel In sight of Paradise, If both a babe's closed fists conceal A velvet vice.
Two flower-soft fists of conquering clutch, Two creased and dimpled wrists, That match, if mottled overmuch, Two flower-soft fists--- What heart of man dare hold the lists Against such odds and such Sweet vantage as no strength resists? Our strength is all a broken crutch, Our eyes are dim with mists, Our hearts are prisoners as we touch Two flower-soft fists.

Poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne
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