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Poem by Francis Thompson


The Omen


    Yet is there more, whereat none guesseth, love!
        Upon the ending of my deadly night
    (Whereof thou hast not the surmise, and slight
    Is all that any mortal knows thereof),
        Thou wert to me that earnest of day's light,
    When, like the back of a gold-mailèd saurian
        Heaving its slow length from Nilotic slime,
    The first long gleaming fissure runs Aurorian
        Athwart the yet dun firmament of prime.
    Stretched on the margin of the cruel sea
            Whence they had rescued me,
    With faint and painful pulses was I lying;
            Not yet discerning well
    If I had 'scaped, or were an icicle,
            Whose thawing is its dying.
    Like one who sweats before a despot's gate,
    Summoned by some presaging scroll of fate,
    And knows not whether kiss or dagger wait;
    And all so sickened is his countenance,
    The courtiers buzz, "Lo, doomed!" and look at him askance:--
                At Fate's dread portal then
                Even so stood I, I ken,
    Even so stood I, between a joy and fear,
    And said to mine own heart, "Now if the end be here!"

            They say, Earth's beauty seems completest
              To them that on their death-beds rest;
            Gentle lady! she smiles sweetest
              Just ere she clasps us to her breast.
    And I,--now _my_ Earth's countenance grew bright,
    Did she but smile me towards that nuptial-night?
    But, whileas on such dubious bed I lay,
                    One unforgotten day,
            As a sick child waking sees
                    Wide-eyed daisies
            Gazing on it from its hand,
            Slipped there for its dear amazes;
            So between thy father's knees
                    I saw _thee_ stand,
                    And through my hazes
    Of pain and fear thine eyes' young wonder shone.
    Then, as flies scatter from a carrion,
        Or rooks in spreading gyres like broken smoke
        Wheel, when some sound their quietude has broke,
    Fled, at thy countenance, all that doubting spawn:
            The heart which I had questioned spoke,
    A cry impetuous from its depths was drawn,--
            "I take the omen of this face of dawn!"
    And with the omen to my heart cam'st thou.
            Even with a spray of tears
    That one light draft was fixed there for the years.
                  And now?--
    The hours I tread ooze memories of thee, Sweet,
            Beneath my casual feet.
            With rainfall as the lea,
            The day is drenched with thee;
            In little exquisite surprises
    Bubbling deliciousness of thee arises
                    From sudden places,
                Under the common traces
    Of my most lethargied and customed paces.



Francis Thompson


Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. Epilogue to the Poet's Sitter
  2. Scala Jacobi Portaque Eburnea
  3. A Fallen Yew
  4. A Judgment in Heaven
  5. Any Saint


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