Thomas MacDonagh

A Season of Repose

In summer time, under the leaves, in Calm
Of middle country, sweet it is to be
Alone amid the old monotony
Of sabbath Peace, which, holy as a Psalm
Of David, falls on aching Thought in balm,
Rich with the reverence of high ecstasy
And dreams of David's land of vine and palm.

David is dead long time, and poets here
Sell their rich souls upon more sordid marts:
And as a grape is crushed all human hearts
Are trampled of the Beauty they held dear,
Their Wine soon quaffed, their Memory but a tear
Dried by new Passion ere another starts--
Dream not of David thou in human fear.

All souls are lost in the vain world of noise;
All gifts of God are bartered for that pelf
And every angel soul will change itself
To serve a brutish idol which destroys
The sacred spirit's mortal equipoise,
Eternal Calm -- to serve an evil elf
Who traffics but Life's lust for Cherub joys.

Here, in a Summer of sweet Solitude,
Oblivion lives gentlier than Thought,
Which pains the spirit anxious and distraught,
Hissing harsh names of disillusions rude--
Blind Apathy of men, Ingratitude,
And Gain for loss of noble kin dear bought--
Here, 'mid the rose, let Envy not intrude.

The pious time of fretful Quietness
Is panting with the happy heart of Noon,
And Life, under the leaves, were yet a boon,
If, lulled in slumber mute, this Happiness
By night or day knew everlastingness,
If 'twere not hurt by dread of waking soon,
Something endured amid the world to bless--

Song, by enraptured Beauty waked and stirred,
Filling the heart with bitter shrill delight,
Killing the heart with joy to live aright,
Stronger than Thought doled out in sound and word,
And better than all noise of pipe or bird--
The spirit's own high winging in great light,
The spirit's own clear singing, spirit-heard.

Leaves weave a world of images to last--
The tideless placid passage of the Nile,
The sensuous seasons of a tropic isle,
The blooms, the glooms, the shadows over-cast
That fall in opiate peace upon the Past,
Far from the stress of cities mile on mile,
The middle calm of country, earth-bound fast.

In the beginning Calm on all things lay--
Clung round Eternity as Light on Space,
Setting a glory unto Beauty's face,
Lulling the primal Time to drowse and stay;
When we are hence she shall resume her sway
And rule with other Time in every place--
When echoes of old Life have ebbed away.

Here was a Druid's house of noise and spell
In the forgotten yesterday of now:
The glade called out with sacrifice and vow,
Till on his gods long Death oblivious fell,
And with that far Dawn rang the cloister bell
Calling lone hermits at one shrine to bow:
The forest stands above their dark-built cell.

The Tide with hideous whirl and wash and foam
Breaks over all and all with tumult fills;
But anon ebbs, backwards its billow spills:--
Horace, the fish are free! But earth and loam
Have claimed the ruins of thy little home,
Have claimed thy farm among the Sabine hills,--
Aye, and one day will claim thy tomb and Rome.

Ah, drown the hours deep in Oblivion's wave,
Or living shun they still Death's old regret!
Unconscious falls the rose, the mignonette
Buries its odour in a winter's grave,
And no vain Love will strive their joy to save,
No heart throb slow and think ne'er to forget--
Only this human Life for tears doth crave.

O Vanity too vain of human heart,
How dost thou mind thy Summer's withered bloom,
And Beauty, springing from her Mother's tomb!
How dost thou yearn for Manners that depart,
And Times with goodness holy that will start
To no new being from their tarnished gloom!--
How dost thou cherish Memory's idle smart!

Drown Thought -- but ah, it will not die or swoon!
It is the Worm that liveth for Hell's pain,
The smoke of torment haunting the quick brain
With faces mocking as the winter moon
To a lost child, who hears the Banshee's croon
Shrill in the shimmer of the icy plain,
And knows her clammy hand will clasp him soon.

So are these piteous tears for ever shed,
And Grief waits everywhere among the crowd
Where Life with noise and folly most is loud:
Now she invades my solitude with Dread
And anxious Thought, all in my Summer bed
Of flowers the fairest, curtained with a cloud
Of lilac bloom, in Quiet's mansion spread.

But Noon is far, the dusk more narrow grows;
And soon a star will hush the sparrow's din,
And fold them all the stooping eaves within;
Now cold will fall with drooping leaves the rose,
The lilac flowers will drink the dew and close;
And silent Hours will link anew and spin
The world and Thought round Seasons of Repose. 

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