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The Long Absence Post by :razztek Category :Poems Author :William Rose Benet Date :October 2011 Read :1243

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The Long Absence

I

ACCOSTED

"If you saw blue eyes that could light and darkle
With merriment or pain;
If you saw a face that was only heart--lonely
In the cities of the plain;
If you felt a kindness that was happy as the daybreak,
Patient as night,
And saw the eyes lift and--the dawn in May break,
You have seen her aright.

"Blue-cloaked archangel, rein your steed a little,
Though cities flame!
Messenger of night, though my words are brittle,
Though I know not your name,
Though your steed paw sparkles and your pinions quiver
With colors like the sea,
Tell me if you saw her, if you saw my love ever!
She is lost to me.

"That is why I walk this windy highway
And stop and hark
And peer through the moonlight--always my way!
And listen up the dark
And knuckle my forehead to remember her truly,
The very She;
And that is why I cling your rein unduly
To answer me!"

But the eyes were deep and dark, though somehow tender.
Haste was manifest
In the gauntlet, the greaves, the irid splendor
That pulsed on his breast.
He did not even gesture to the night grown holy,
But shook his rein
As his steed leapt forth; while I--turned slowly
To the cities of the plain.


II

THE HOUSE AT EVENING

Across the school-ground it would start
To light my eyes, that yellow gleam,--
The window of the flaming heart,
The chimney of the tossing dream,
The scuffed and wooden porch of Heaven,
The voice that came like a caress,
The warm kind hands that once were given
My carelessness.

It was a house you would not think
Could hold such sacraments in things
Or give the wild heart meat and drink
Or give the stormy soul high wings
Or chime small voices to such mirth
Or crown the night with stars and flowers
Or make upon this quaking earth
Such steady hours.

Yet, that in storm it stood secure,
And in the cold was warm with love,
Shall its similitude endure
Past trophies that men weary of,
When two were out of fortune's reach,
Building great empires round a name
And ushering into casual speech
Dim worlds aflame.


III

FOR THINKING EVIL

For thinking evil and planning shame
The fire licked upward--at first a name,
Then star-devouring rebellious flame.

The dread light lingered high on the sky.
It grew and reddened--a voiceless cry.
It spread and touched us, we knew not why.

And a man sat staring out to the night,
Through tender silence, in warm lamplight,
Thinking always, "The fire at height!"

That fire blowing with growing roar
Saw us going, closing the door;
Saw us parted--who meet no more.

For thinking evil--all men drawn
Against a devil that dusked the dawn.
Each to his station. All men gone.

Some for the hilltop, fire to its brow,--
Death, long torture,--some for the plough,--
Some for the silence--that I know now.


IV

TRAVEL

You and I dreaming
Planned the far-away,
Cities and hedgerows,
Distant summer day,
When, the sun sinking,--
But oh, a distant sun!--
We would be thinking,
"Think what we have done!"

You and I whispering
Held the isles in fee
By a chain of grasses,
By your smile to me,
Visioning some clime--
But long years between--
When we should say, sometime,
"Think what we have seen!"

You and I wondering
Of our old age,
Turned a page pondering,
And turned a page ...
Now, my hands pluck ravelled
Strands I can't untie.
Yet--you always travelled
Farther than I!


V

HER WAY

You loved the hay in the meadow,
Flowers at noon,
The high cloud's long shadow,
Honey of June,
The flaming woodways tangled
With Fall on the hill,
The towering night star-spangled
And winter-still.

And you loved firelit faces,
The hearth, the home,--
Your mind on golden traces,
London or Rome,--
On quaintly-colored spaces
Where heavens glow
With his quaint saints' embraces,--
Angelico.

In cloister and highway
(Gold of God's dust!)
And many an elfin byway
You put your trust,--
A crock and a table,
Love's end of day,
And light of a storied stable
Where kings must pray.

Somewhere there is a village
For you and me,
Hay field, hearth and tillage,--
Where can it be?
Prayers when birds awake,
Daily bread,
Toil for His sunlit sake
Who raised us dead.

With this in mind you moved
Through love and pain.
Hard though the long road proved,
You turned again
With a heart that knew its trust
Not ill-bestowed.
With this you light the dust
That clouds my road.


(The end)
William Rose Benet's poem: Long Absence

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