AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

28 January 2017

Feels.


BACCHANALIA

The evening comes, the fields are still. 
The tinkle of the thirsty rill, 
Unheard all day, ascends again; 
Deserted is the half-mown plain, 
Silent the swaths! the ringing wain, 
The mower's cry, the dog's alarms, 
All housed within the sleeping farms! 
The business of the day is done, 
The last-left haymaker is gone. 
And from the thyme upon the height, 
And from the elder-blossom white 
And pale dog-roses in the hedge, 
And from the mint-plant in the sedge, 
In puffs of balm the night-air blows 
The perfume which the day forgoes. 
And on the pure horizon far, 
See, pulsing with the first-born star, 
The liquid sky above the hill! 
The evening comes, the fields are still. 

       Loitering and leaping, 
       With saunter, with bounds— 
       Flickering and circling 
       In files and in rounds— 
       Gaily their pine-staff green 
       Tossing in air, 
       Loose o'er their shoulders white 
       Showering their hair— 
       See! the wild Maenads 
       Break from the wood, 
       Youth and Iacchus 
       Maddening their blood. 

       See! through the quiet land 
       Rioting they pass— 
       Fling the fresh heaps about, 
       Trample the grass. 
       Tear from the rifled hedge 
       Garlands, their prize; 
       Fill with their sports the field, 
       Fill with their cries. 

       Shepherd, what ails thee, then? 
       Shepherd, why mute? 
       Forth with thy joyous song! 
       Forth with thy flute! 
       Tempts not the revel blithe? 
       Lure not their cries? 
       Glow not their shoulders smooth? 
       Melt not their eyes? 
       Is not, on cheeks like those, 
       Lovely the flush? 
       —Ah, so the quiet was! 
       So was the hush! 

II 
The epoch ends, the world is still. 
The age has talk'd and work'd its fill— 
The famous orators have shone, 
The famous poets sung and gone, 
The famous men of war have fought, 
The famous speculators thought, 
The famous players, sculptors, wrought, 
The famous painters fill'd their wall, 
The famous critics judged it all. 
The combatants are parted now— 
Uphung the spear, unbent the bow, 
The puissant crown'd, the weak laid low. 
And in the after-silence sweet, 
Now strifes are hush'd, our ears doth meet, 
Ascending pure, the bell-like fame 
Of this or that down-trodden name, 
Delicate spirits, push'd away 
In the hot press of the noon-day. 
And o'er the plain, where the dead age 
Did its now silent warfare wage— 
O'er that wide plain, now wrapt in gloom, 
Where many a splendour finds its tomb, 
Many spent fames and fallen mights— 
The one or two immortal lights 
Rise slowly up into the sky 
To shine there everlastingly, 
Like stars over the bounding hill. 
The epoch ends, the world is still. 

       Thundering and bursting 
       In torrents, in waves— 
       Carolling and shouting 
       Over tombs, amid graves— 
       See! on the cumber'd plain 
       Clearing a stage, 
       Scattering the past about, 
       Comes the new age. 
       Bards make new poems, 
       Thinkers new schools, 
       Statesmen new systems, 
       Critics new rules. 
       All things begin again; 
       Life is their prize; 
       Earth with their deeds they fill, 
       Fill with their cries. 

       Poet, what ails thee, then? 
       Say, why so mute? 
       Forth with thy praising voice! 
       Forth with thy flute! 
       Loiterer! why sittest thou 
       Sunk in thy dream? 
       Tempts not the bright new age? 
       Shines not its stream? 
       Look, ah, what genius, 
       Art, science, wit! 
       Soldiers like Caesar, 
       Statesmen like Pitt! 
       Sculptors like Phidias, 
       Raphaels in shoals, 
       Poets like Shakespeare— 
       Beautiful souls! 
       See, on their glowing cheeks 
       Heavenly the flush! 
       —Ah, so the silence was! 
       So was the hush! 

The world but feels the present's spell, 
The poet feels the past as well; 
Whatever men have done, might do, 
Whatever thought, might think it too. 

Matthew Arnold

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