Ode in the Day of Transition


Song , from thy wealth, far passing richest guess,
Give us the things we are poor in, not the things
Life spawns for ever with a rank excess.
Thou that canst fiercely bless,
Take us to founts of power, the unchoked springs
Of the world's wondrousness.
We need thy boons. We are shaken with storms of fate.
And now, while we await
The all-calm sky To-morrow never brings,
The tempest and long thunder of Yesterday
Have not quite trailed away
The last fringe of the midnight of their wings.
War smote us hard, and the hard blows of peace
Buffet our laden shoulders without cease.
And busy is hate, whose wanton sickle cuts
Our ripening hopes untimely evermore:
And diligent is the furtive hand that shuts
On Truth an iron door.
Nor rest they oft, being troublously awake
Throughout the Earth, who, in a blear light, stir
The Cauldrons of Confusion, whence are borne
Hither and thither the sick fumes that make
Void minds their dwelling, and blur
The countenance of the morn.
And from that region whose slow waters roam
To land-locked seas, or wed the Arctic foam —
From that huge cradle and grave of Czars, where rose
The towers of tyranny o'er a people's woes —
Comes a hoarse sound upon the east wind flung,
The voice of that strange child whom Havoc bore,
But who from old Despairs is likewise sprung:
Their baleful daughter, joyless, yet how young! —
Sitting as one becrowned
On a vast burial mound,
That hides the undirged, mown in the whirlwind's roar,
When, with blind Hates hemmed round,
Pity no longer dared to have a tongue.


Therefore, O Song, beholding all the ill
That scatters wide its plague-seed to pollute
This faltering morrow of the battle-gloom,
We in whose ears the sound of tumult shrill
Was idle at times as a remote dispute
That seems the clash of shadows; we to whom
Ages whose last words were of feuds and spoils
Bequeathed a monstrous ravelment unblest,
Which we must needs hand on (O dire bequest)
Curst with new knots and coils;
We that from War now earn such acrid fruit,
And from bleak triumph the wan flower whose doom
Is to lack nought but scent and colour and bloom;
We whom the wrangle we call peace embroils
With dissonance never mute;
We ask that thou, whose torch the gross murk foils
But for a season — we ask that thou fulfil,
In this hurt day, that still
Bears on its bosom fewer flowers than scars,
One errand, amid such gods as wax or wane,
One service, thy least vain,
To us fond flutterers 'twixt delight and pain.
While Chance with crude touch mars
The yet brave shape of Life — nay, till Life's toils,
And the sweet fraudulence of its dreams, be o'er;
Till all the base or noble dreamers must
Accept without disdain
The equality and fraternity of the dust,
Where in like quiet are lulled the note that jars
And the pure music faultless to its core, —
Till then, great Mother, as oft-times heretofore,
Through all our clamour and blare and greed and lust,
Remind us of the stars.
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