Saint's Tragedy, The - Proem

(E PIMETHEUS .)

I

Wake again, Teutonic Father-ages,
Speak again, beloved primaeval creeds;
Flash ancestral spirit from your pages,
Wake the greedy age to noble deeds.

II.

Tell us, how of old our saintly mothers
Schooled themselves by vigil, fast, and prayer,
Learnt to love as Jesus loved before them,
While they bore the cross which poor men bear.

III.

Tell us how our stout crusading fathers
Fought and died for God, and not for gold;
Let their love, their faith, their boyish daring,
Distance-mellowed, gild the days of old.

IV.

Tell us how the sexless workers, thronging,
Angel-tended, round the convent doors,
Wrought to Christian faith and holy order
Savage hearts alike and barren moors

V.

Ye who build the churches where we worship,
Ye who framed the laws by which we move,
Fathers, long belied, and long forsaken,
Oh! forgive the children of your love!

(PROMETHEUS .)

I.

Speak! but ask us not to be as ye were!
All but God is changing day by day.
He who breathes on man the plastic spirit
Bids us mould ourselves its robe of clay.

II.

Old anarchic floods of revolution,
Drowning ill and good alike in night,
Sink, and bare the wrecks of ancient labour,
Fossil-teeming, to the searching light.

III.

There will we find laws, which shall interpret,
Through the simpler past, existing life;
Delving up from mines and fairy caverns
Charmed blades, to cut the age's strife.

IV.

What though fogs may stream from draining waters?
We will till the clays to mellow loam;
Wake the graveyard of our fathers' spirits;
Clothe its crumbling mounds with blade and bloom.

V.

Old decays but foster new creations;
Bones and ashes feed the golden corn;
Fresh elixirs wander every moment,
Down the veins through which the live past feeds its child, the live unborn.
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