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The Crystal Analysis

Author: Poetry of Sidney Lanier Type: Poetry Views: 117

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At midnight, death's and truth's unlocking time,

When far within the spirit's hearing rolls

The great soft rumble of the course of things --

A bulk of silence in a mask of sound, --

When darkness clears our vision that by day

Is sun-blind, and the soul's a ravening owl

For truth and flitteth here and there about

Low-lying woody tracts of time and oft

Is minded for to sit upon a bough,

Dry-dead and sharp, of some long-stricken tree

And muse in that gaunt place, -- 'twas then my heart,

Deep in the meditative dark, cried out:

"Ye companies of governor-spirits grave,

Bards, and old bringers-down of flaming news

From steep-wall'd heavens, holy malcontents,

Sweet seers, and stellar visionaries, all

That brood about the skies of poesy,

Full bright ye shine, insuperable stars;

Yet, if a man look hard upon you, none

With total lustre blazeth, no, not one

But hath some heinous freckle of the flesh

Upon his shining cheek, not one but winks

His ray, opaqued with intermittent mist

Of defect; yea, you masters all must ask

Some sweet forgiveness, which we leap to give,

We lovers of you, heavenly-glad to meet

Your largesse so with love, and interplight

Your geniuses with our mortalities.

Thus unto thee, O sweetest Shakespeare sole,

A hundred hurts a day I do forgive

('Tis little, but, enchantment! 'tis for thee):

Small curious quibble; Juliet's prurient pun

In the poor, pale face of Romeo's fancied death;

Cold rant of Richard; Henry's fustian roar

Which frights away that sleep he invocates;

Wronged Valentine's unnatural haste to yield;

Too-silly shifts of maids that mask as men

In faint disguises that could ne'er disguise --

Viola, Julia, Portia, Rosalind;

Fatigues most drear, and needless overtax

Of speech obscure that had as lief be plain;

Last I forgive (with more delight, because

'Tis more to do) the labored-lewd discourse

That e'en thy young invention's youngest heir

Besmirched the world with.

Father Homer, thee,

Thee also I forgive thy sandy wastes

Of prose and catalogue, thy drear harangues

That tease the patience of the centuries,

Thy sleazy scrap of story, -- but a rogue's

Rape of a light-o'-love, -- too soiled a patch

To broider with the gods.

Thee, Socrates,

Thou dear and very strong one, I forgive

Thy year-worn cloak, thine iron stringencies

That were but dandy upside-down, thy words

Of truth that, mildlier spoke, had mainlier wrought.

So, Buddha, beautiful! I pardon thee

That all the All thou hadst for needy man

Was Nothing, and thy Best of being was

But not to be.

Worn Dante, I forgive

The implacable hates that in thy horrid hells

Or burn or freeze thy fellows, never loosed

By death, nor time, nor love.

And I forgive

Thee, Milton, those thy comic-dreadful wars

Where, armed with gross and inconclusive steel,

Immortals smite immortals mortalwise

And fill all heaven with folly.

Also thee,

Brave Aeschylus, thee I forgive, for that

Thine eye, by bare bright justice basilisked,

Turned not, nor ever learned to look where Love

Stands shining.

So, unto thee, Lucretius mine

(For oh, what heart hath loved thee like to this

That's now complaining?), freely I forgive

Thy logic poor, thine error rich, thine earth

Whose graves eat souls and all.

Yea, all you hearts

Of beauty, and sweet righteous lovers large:

Aurelius fine, oft superfine; mild Saint

A Kempis, overmild; Epictetus,

Whiles low in thought, still with old slavery tinct;

Rapt Behmen, rapt too far; high Swedenborg,

O'ertoppling; Langley, that with but a touch

Of art hadst sung Piers Plowman to the top

Of English songs, whereof 'tis dearest, now,

And most adorable; Caedmon, in the morn

A-calling angels with the cow-herd's call

That late brought up the cattle; Emerson,

Most wise, that yet, in finding Wisdom, lost

Thy Self, sometimes; tense Keats, with angels' nerves

Where men's were better; Tennyson, largest voice

Since Milton, yet some register of wit

Wanting; -- all, all, I pardon, ere 'tis asked,

Your more or less, your little mole that marks

You brother and your kinship seals to man.

But Thee, but Thee, O sovereign Seer of time,

But Thee, O poets' Poet, Wisdom's Tongue,

But Thee, O man's best Man, O love's best Love,

O perfect life in perfect labor writ,

O all men's Comrade, Servant, King, or Priest, --

What `if' or `yet', what mole, what flaw, what lapse,

What least defect or shadow of defect,

What rumor, tattled by an enemy,

Of inference loose, what lack of grace

Even in torture's grasp, or sleep's, or death's, --

Oh, what amiss may I forgive in Thee,

Jesus, good Paragon, thou Crystal Christ?"


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| Posted on 2012-03-22 | by a guest

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