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Alfred Noyes (Альфред Нойес)


The Old Sceptic


I am weary of disbelieving: why should I wound my love
  To pleasure a sophist's pride in a graven image of truth?
I will go back to my home, with the clouds and the stars above,
  And the heaven I used to know, and the God of my buried youth.

I will go back to the home where of old in my boyish pride
  I pierced my father's heart with a murmur of unbelief.
He only looked in my face as I spoke, but his mute eyes cried
  Night after night in my dreams; and he died in grief, in grief.

Books? I have read the books, the books that we write ourselves,
  Extolling our love of an abstract truth and our pride of debate:
I will go back to the love of the cotter who sings as he delves,
  To that childish infinite love and the God above fact and date.

To that ignorant infinite God who colours the meaningless flowers,
  To that lawless infinite Poet who crowns the law with the crime;
To the Weaver who covers the world with a garment of wonderful hours,
  And holds in His hand like threads the tales and the truths of time.

Is the faith of the cotter so simple and narrow as this? Ah, well,
  It is hardly so narrow as yours who daub and plaster with dyes
The shining mirrors of heaven, the shadowy mirrors of hell,
  And blot out the dark deep vision, if it seem to be framed with lies.

No faith I hurl against you, no fact to freeze your sneers.
  Only the doubt you taught me to weld in the fires of youth
Leaps to my hand like the flaming sword of nineteen hundred years,
  The sword of the high God's answer, _O Pilate, what is truth?_

Your laughter has killed more hearts than ever were pierced with swords,
  Ever you daub new mirrors and turn the old to the wall;
And more than blood is lost in the weary battle of words;
  For creeds are many; but God is One, and contains them all.

Ah, why should we strive or cry? Surely the end is close!
  Hold by your little truths: deem your triumph complete!
But nothing is true or false in the infinite heart of the rose;
  And the earth is a little dust that clings to our travelling feet.

I will go back to my home and look at the wayside flowers,
  And hear from the wayside cabins the kind old hymns again,
Where Christ holds out His arms in the quiet evening hours,
  And the light of the chapel porches broods on the peaceful lane.

And there I shall hear men praying the deep old foolish prayers,
  And there I shall see, once more, the fond old faith confessed,
And the strange old light on their faces who hear as a blind man hears,--
 _Come unto Me, ye weary, and I will give you rest._

I will go back and believe in the deep old foolish tales,
  And pray the simple prayers that I learned at my mother's knee,
Where the Sabbath tolls its peace thro' the breathless mountain-vales,
  And the sunset's evening hymn hallows the listening sea.



Alfred Noyes's other poems:
  1. Moving through the Dew
  2. A Ride for the Queen
  3. Necromancy
  4. Art, the Herald
  5. The Trumpet Call


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