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- LIFE, like a marble block, is given to all,
- A blank, inchoate mass of years and days,
- Whence one with ardent chisel swift essays
- Some shape of strength or symmetry to call;
- One shatters it in bits to mend a wall;
- One in a craftier hand the chisel lays,
- And one, to wake the mirth in Lesbia's gaze,
- Carves it apace in toys fantastical.
- But least is he who, with enchanted eyes
- Filled with high visions of fair shapes to be,
- Muses which god he shall immortalize
- In the proud Parian's perpetuity,
- Till twilight warns him from the punctual skies
- That he night cometh wherein none shall see.
- Edith Wharton
- IMMENSE, august, like some Titanic bloom,
- The mighty choir unfolds its lithic core,
- Petalled with panes of azure, gules and or,
- Splendidly lambent in the Gothic gloom,
- And stamened with keen flamelets that illume
- The pale high-alter. On the prayer-worn floor,
- By worshippers innumerous thronged of yore,
- A few brown crones, familiars of the tomb,
- The stranded driftwood of Faith's ebbing sea--
- For these alone the finials fret the skies,
- The topmost bosses shake their blossoms free,
- While from the triple portals, with grave eyes,
- Tranquil, and fixed upon eternity,
- The cloud of witnesses still testifies.
- The crimson panes like blood-drops stigmatise
- The western floor. The aisles are mute and cold.
- A rigid fetich in her robe of gold,
- The Virgin of the Pillar, with blank eyes,
- Enthroned beneath her votive canopies,
- Gathers a meagre remnant to her fold.
- The rest is solitude; the church, grown old,
- Stands stark and grey beneath the burning skies.
- Well-nigh again its mighty framework grows
- To be a part of nature's self, withdrawn
- >From hot humanity's impatient woes;
- The floor is ridged like some rude mountain lawn,
- And in the east one giant window shows
- The roseate coldness of an Alp at dawn.
- Edith Wharton
- LEAGUERED in fire
- The wild black promontories of the coast extend
- Their savage silhouettes;
- The sun in universal carnage sets,
- And, halting higher,
- The motionless storm-clouds mass their sullen threats,
- Like an advancing mob in sword-points penned,
- That, balked, yet stands at bay.
- Mid-zenith hangs the fascinated day
- In wind-lustrated hollows crystalline,
- A wan Valkyrie whose wide pinions shine
- Across the ensanguined ruins of the fray,
- And in her hand swings high o'erhead,
- Above the waste of war,
- The silver torch-light of the evening star
- Wherewith to search the faces of the dead.
- Lagooned in gold,
- Seem not those jetty promontories rather
- The outposts of some ancient land forlorn,
- Uncomforted of morn,
- Where old oblivions gather,
- The melancholy unconsoling fold
- Of all things that go utterly to death
- And mix no more, no more
- With life's perpetually awakening breath?
- Shall Time not ferry me to such a shore,
- Over such sailless seas,
- To walk with hope's slain importunities
- In miserable marriage? Nay, shall not
- All things be there forgot,
- Save the sea's golden barrier and the black
- Close-crouching promontories?
- Dead to all shames, forgotten of all glories,
- Shall I not wander there, a shadow's shade,
- A spectre self-destroyed,
- So purged of all remembrance and sucked back
- Into the primal void,
- That should we on that shore phantasmal meet
- I should not know the coming of your feet?
- Edith Wharton
Poets' Corner .
H O M E .