The Mother Mourns

When mid-autumn's moan shook the night-time,
And sedges were horny,
And summer's green wonderwork faltered
On leaze and in lane,

I fared Yell'ham-Firs way, where dimly
Came wheeling around me
Those phantoms obscure and insistent
That shadows unchain.

Till airs from the needle-thicks brought me
A low lamentation,
As though from a tree-god disheartened,
Perplexed, or in pain.

And, heeding, it awed me to gather
That Nature herself there
Was breathing in airy accents,
With dirge-like refrain,

Weary plaint that Mankind, in these late days,
Had grieved her by holding
Her ancient high fame of perfection
In doubt and disdain. . . .

— " I had not proposed me a Creature
(She soughed) so excelling
All else of my kingdom in compass
And brightness of brain

" As to read my defects with a god-glance,
Uncover each vestige
Of old inadvertence, annunciate
Each flaw and each stain!

" My purpose went not to develop
Such insight in Earthland;
Such potent appraisements affront me,
And sadden my reign!

" Why loosened I olden control here
To mechanize skywards,
Undeeming great scope could outshape in
A globe of such grain?

" Man's mountings of mindsight I checked not,
Till range of his vision
Now tops my intent, and finds blemish
Throughout my domain.

" He holds as inept his own soul-shell —
My deftest achievement —
Contemns me for fitful inventions
Ill-timed and inane:

" No more sees my sun as a Sanct-shape,
My moon as the Night-queen,
My stars as august and sublime ones
That influences rain:

" Reckons gross and ignoble my teaching,
Immoral my story,
My love-lights a lure that my species
May gather and gain.

" " Give me, " he has said, " but the matter
And means the gods lot her,
My brain could evolve a creation
More seemly, more sane. "

— " If ever a naughtiness seized me
To woo adulation
From creatures more keen than those crude ones
That first formed my train —

" If inly a moment I murmured,
" The simple praise sweetly,
But sweetlier the sage " — and did rashly
Man's vision unrein,

" I rue it! . . . His guileless forerunners,
Whose brains I could blandish,
To measure the deeps of my mysteries
Applied them in vain.

" From them my waste aimings and futile
I subtly could cover;
" Every best thing, " said they, " to best purpose
Her powers preordain. " —

" No more such! . . . My species are dwindling,
My forests grow barren,
My popinjays fail from their tappings,
My larks from their strain.

" My leopardine beauties are rarer,
My tusky ones vanish,
My children have aped mine own slaughters
To quicken my wane.

" Let me grow, then, but mildews and mandrakes,
And slimy distortions,
Let nevermore things good and lovely
To me appertain;

" For Reason is rank in my temples,
And Vision unruly,
And chivalrous laud of my cunning
Is heard not again!"
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