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Poem by Coventry Patmore
The Unknown Eros
Proem СMany speak wisely, some inerrably: Witness the beast who talk'd that should have bray'd, And Caiaphas that said Expedient 'twas for all that One should die; But what avails When Love's right accent from their wisdom fails, And the Truth-criers know not what they cry! Say, wherefore thou, As under bondage of some bitter vow, Warblest no word, When all the rest are shouting to be heard? Why leave the fervid running just when Fame 'Gan whispering of thy name Amongst the hard-pleased Judges of the Course? Parch'd is thy crystal-flowing source? Pierce, then, with thought's steel probe, the trodden ground, Till passion's buried floods be found; Intend thine eye Into the dim and undiscover'd sky Whose lustres are the pulsings of the heart, And promptly, as thy trade is, watch to chart The lonely suns, the mystic hazes and throng'd sparkles bright That, named and number'd right In sweet, transpicuous words, shall glow alway With Love's three-stranded ray, Red wrath, compassion golden, lazuline delight.Т Thus in reproof of my despondency, My Mentor; and thus I: O, season strange for song! And yet some timely power persuades my lips. Is't England's parting soul that nerves my tongue, As other Kingdoms, nearing their eclipse, Have, in their latest bards, uplifted strong The voice that was their voice in earlier days? Is it her sudden, loud and piercing cry, The note which those that seem too weak to sigh Will sometimes utter just before they die? Lo, weary of the greatness of her ways, There lies my Land, with hasty pulse and hard, Her ancient beauty marr'd, And, in her cold and aimless roving sight, Horror of light; Sole vigour left in her last lethargy, Save when, at bidding of some dreadful breath, The rising death Rolls up with force; And then the furiously gibbering corse Shakes, panglessly convuls'd, and sightless stares, Whilst one Physician pours in rousing wines, One anodynes, And one declares That nothing ails it but the pains of growth. My last look loth Is taken; and I turn, with the relief Of knowing that my life-long hope and grief Are surely vain, To that unshapen time to come, when She, A dim, heroic Nation long since dead, The foulness of her agony forgot, Shall all benignly shed Through ages vast The ghostly grace of her transfigured past Over the present, harass'd and forlorn, Of nations yet unborn; And this shall be the lot Of those who, in the bird-voice and the blast Of her omniloquent tongue, Have truly sung Or greatly said, To shew as one With those who have best done, And be as rays, Thro' the still altering world, around her changeless head. Therefore no 'plaint be mine Of listeners none, No hope of render'd use or proud reward, In hasty times and hard; But chants as of a lonely thrush's throat At latest eve, That does in each calm note Both joy and grieve; Notes few and strong and fine, Gilt with sweet day's decline, And sad with promise of a different sun. 'Mid the loud concert harsh Of this fog-folded marsh, To me, else dumb, Uranian Clearness, come! Give me to breathe in peace and in surprise The light-thrill'd ether of your rarest skies, Till inmost absolution start The welling in the grateful eyes, The heaving in the heart. Winnow with sighs And wash away With tears the dust and stain of clay, Till all the Song be Thine, as beautiful as Morn, Bedeck'd with shining clouds of scorn; And Thou, Inspirer, deign to brood O'er the delighted words, and call them Very Good. This grant, Clear Spirit; and grant that I remain Content to ask unlikely gifts in vain.
Coventry Patmore's other poems:
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