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O Life Post by :voicewaveteam Category :Poems Author :Madison Julius Cawein Date :October 2011 Read :1741

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O Life

O Life, thou hast no power left to strive,
Life, who, upon wild mountains of Surprise,
Behold'st Love's citadelled, tall towers rise,--
Shafts of clear, Paphian waters poured that live.

O Hope, who sought'st fulfillment of deep dreams
Beyond those Caucasus of Faith and Truth,--
Twixt silver realms of eld and golden youth
Rolled,--cloudward clustered; whose sonorous streams,

Urned in the palms of Death, gush to his feet:
Unlovely beauty of sad, stirless sight
Mixed in them with eternity of night;--
O Hope, how sad the journey once so sweet!

Dreams crowned with thorns have passed thee on the way;
And Beauties with bare limbs red-bruised and torn;
Tall, holy Hours their eyes dull, wan and worn,
Slaves manacled whom lashed the brutal Day.

And Sorrow sat beside a sea so wide,
That shoreless Heaven unto one little star
Upon the brink of night seems not so far,
And on her feet the frail foams tossing sighed.

She, her rent hair, dressed like a siren's, full
Of weedy waifs and strays of moaning shells,
Streaked with the glimmering sands and foamy bells,
Loomed a pale utterance most beautiful.

"And thou shall love me, Sorrow!" I; but she
Turned her vast eyes upon me and no more;
Their melancholy language clove the core
Of my fast heart; and in mine ears the sea

Along gaunt crags yearned iron-husky grief;
Groaned the hard headlands with the wings of Storm,
Huge thunder shook the foot-hills and Alarm
Gnashed her thin fangs from hissing reef to reef.

So to the hills aweary I did turn.--
Beyond, a reach of sunlight and slim flowers;
Where Hope, an amaranth, and tearless Hours,
Long lilies, lived, whose hearts stiff gold did burn.

And there curled Joy clinked their chaste chalices;
Distilled at dusk, poured bubbling dewy wine,
Divine elixir! off his lips divine
Tossed the fleet rapture to the golden lees,

And so lolled dazed with pleasure. And I said,
"Yield me the lily thou hast drained that I
This hollow thirst may kill and so not die?"
To me he laughed, "I yield it!"--but 'twas dead.

And each blown reach and eminence of blooms
Flushed long, low, gurgling murmurs like a sea,
And laughed bright lips that flashed white teeth of glee
In pearly flower on flower; pure perfumes

Gasped the rolled fields; and o'er the eminence
I journeyed joyless thro' a blossom-fire
That, budding kisses curled with blown desire,
Clasped me and claimed me tho' I spurned it hence.

Then came unto a land of thorns and weeds,
And dust and thirst o'er which a songless sky,
Hoarse with lean vultures, scowled a scoffing lie,
Where cold snakes hissed among dead, rattling reeds.

And there I saw the bony brow of Hate;
Vile, vicious sneers, the eyes of shriveled Scorn
Among the writhing briers; each a thorn
Of cavernous hunger barbed with burning fate.

They, thro' her face-drawn locks of raveled dark,
Stung a stark horror; and I felt my heart
Freeze, wedged with ice, to dullness part by part,
And knew Hate coiled toward me yet stood stark--

Fell; seeing on the happy, happy hills,
Above that den of dust and thorny thirst,
The bastioned walls of Love in glory burst,
Built by sweet glades of Poesy and rills.

O Life, I had not life enough to strive!
O Hope, I had not hope enough to dream!
Death drew me to him and to sigh did seem,
"Love? Love?--thou canst not reach her and yet live!

"For sorrow, joy, and hate, and scorn are bound
About thee, girdling so, thy lips are dumb;
And Fame, ah Fame! her towers are but a tomb--
Star-set on dwindling heights of starry ground.

"And thou art done and being done must die,
Endeavor being dead and energy
Slain, a wild bird that beat bars to be free,
Despairing perished, finding life a lie."


(The end)
Madison Julius Cawein's poem: O Life

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