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Wisdom And Youth Post by :Davemo Category :Poems Author :John Presland Date :November 2011 Read :3400

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Wisdom And Youth

In the depths of the forest Merlin dreamed;
The shuttle of noon wove light and shade
Over the moss and around the trees,
And a network among the branches made.

He sat with his back against a tree,
Grey as himself, and gnarled, and old;
The lichen was grey as the ragged beard
Over his friezen mantle's fold.

Still he sat, like an ancient stone
That time has forgotten to wear away--
While streamed the forest's green and gold,
Like banners on a windy day.

And Merlin watched, as watches a tree,
A sombre oak of antiquity,
The myriad life that seethes and hums,
Around its immobility.

Around himself, himself had made
A monstrous and a mystic spell,
Weblike, wherein he sat and dreamed;
--So in its mesh may spider dwell!

His silence heard the things that grow
In underwood of tangled green;
His vision penetrated deep,
Beneath the common surface screen;

The roots of things were plain to him,
He saw the crowded under-earth,
Where every life fought ceaselessly,
To bring a future life to birth;

For him the stirring of the leaves
Beneath a listless passing breeze,
Spoke with a manifolded tongue
From all the thickly growing trees;

For him the beetles and the mice
Made magic of desires and fears,
The bumble bee's slow rhythmic hum
Seemed like the passing of the years.

And where a curving bramble-branch
Lay half in shade and half in light,
The universe's giant curves
Were all discovered to his sight;

All things were all things' complement,
For what the oak left unexpressed
In line and hue, the silver birch
Continued, in completion's quest.

There was no moss, nor stone, nor leaf,
Nor lingering small drop of dew,
But he resolved to harmony,
And in the mystic mind-web drew.

So sat he, abstract as a god,
The greatest wisdom of the world,
While on his head the sunshine played,
And round his robe the shadows curled.

Till, through the forest's green and gold,
And through the magic afternoon,
--Strange, as moonlit waters are,
Sweet, as cowslip-fields in June:--

Oh, summer-footed Vivien came!
And through the web of dreaming broke;
And on her silver clarion note
Of laughter, the great Sage awoke.

She sat her down beneath the tree,
--Oh! fair her youth his age beside!--
She plucked the boughs to make her shade.
She pulled the flowers far and wide,

To deck her hair; and while the glades
Re-echoed to her laughter gay,
She leaned to Merlin, kissing him,
And stroked his beard, unkempt and grey.

And he forgot the voice of trees,
And of the silent undergrowth,
To hear her merry lilting song,
And watch, reposed in summer sloth,

Vivien dance upon the sward,
As children dance, alone, at ease;
Till breathlessly she cast her down
And laid her head upon his knees.

And with his hand among her hair
The magic of his mind was rent,
And captive to her shadowed eyes,
Behold! the Master-Thinker went.

(The end)
John Presland's poem: Wisdom And Youth

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