Epode

BEYOND the Night, down o'er the labouring East,
I see light's harbinger of day released:
Upon the false gleam of the ante-dawn,
Lo, the fair heaven of sun-pursuing morn.
Beyond the lampless sleep and perishing death,
That hold my heart, I feel my New Life's breath, —
I see the face my Spirit-shape shall have
When this frail clay and dust have fled the grave.
Beyond the Night, the death of doubt, defeat,
Rise dawn and morn, and life with light doth meet,
For the great cause, too, — sure as the Sun, you ray
Shoots up to strike the threatening clouds and say:
I come, and with me comes the victorious Day!
When I was young, the Muse I worshipped took me,
Fearless, a lonely heart, to look on men.
''Tis yours,' said she, 'to paint this show of them
Even as they are.' Then smiling she forsook me.
Wherefore with passionate patience I withdrew,
With eyes from which all loves, hates, hopes and fears,
Joy's aureole and the blinding sheen of tears,
Were purged away. And what I saw I drew.
Then, as I worked remote, serene, alone,
A Child-girl came to me and touched my cheek;
And lo her lips were pale, her limbs were weak,
Her eyes had thirst's desire and hunger's moan.
She said: 'I am the Soul of this sad day
Where thousands toil and suffer hideous Crime,
Where units rob and mock the empty time
With revel and rank prayer and death's display.'
I said: 'O Child, how shall I leave my songs,
My songs and tales, the warp and subtle woof
Of this great work and web, in your behoof
To strive and passionately sing of wrongs?
'Child, is it nothing that I here fulfil
My heart and soul? that I may look and see
Where Homer bends, and Shakspere smiles on me,
And Goethe praises the unswerving will?'
She hung her head, and straight, without a word,
Passed from me. And I raised my conscious face
To where, in beauteous power in her place,
She stood, the Muse, my Muse, and watched and heard.
Her proud and marble brow was faintly flushed;
Upon her flawless lips and in her eyes
A mild light flickered as the young sunrise,
Glad, sacred, terrible, serene and hushed.
Then I cried out, and rose with pure wrath wild,
Desperate with hatred of Fate's slavery
And this cold cruel Demon. With that cry,
I left her and sought out the piteous Child.
'Darling, 'tis nothing that I shed and weep
These tears of fire that wither all the heart,
These bloody sweats that drain and sear and smart.
I love you, and you'll kiss me when I sleep!'

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"Epode" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 17 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/14010/epode>.

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