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Poem by Louisa Sarah Bevington



SEE where the man wakes late from his dreaming,
Late in the night from the sleep that has been;
See where regret weeps sick for the seeming,
See where the soul shrinks chill from the seen:
The full warm visions that promised to ease him,
That held for some dream-sake his heart in a chain,
These have rolled from his waking, to chasten and please him
Never again.


The man wakes late from the dream of his youth-time,
Wakes him to know that he knows he is man;
Wakes in the dark of a fathomless truth-time,
Clutched by the cold of a cosmical plan;
Sure it is only the glamour that's going,
Sure that the dark has been there from the first;
Nothing has changed save his dream into knowing,
Sure of the worst.


Ever the cold of the night all about him
Mocks at his passionate prayer to prevail;
Ever the silence of world-work without him
Leaves him permission to conquer or fail:
Fail for the sake of the fervour of loving,
Conquer for name of the love of the right;
Never a god-glance to mark the approving,
Only the night.


Oh, for the warmth of the sun in a vision!
Oh, for the vision of suns out of view!
Oh, for the pledge that the infinite prison
Where bound are the suns, there may be spirits break through!
High in the north of the sky, ever steady,
A pole-star stands in the whirl of the dark,
A sun hung far at waste and unready,
Less than a spark.


Low in the east of the sky is a glimmer,
Dawn or false dawn in a piteous show;
Dimmer the stars are, dimmer and dimmer,
Why has the dawn not a homelier glow?
Oh, the late night is all pallid and eerie!
Oh, the old dreams were familiar and kind!
Woe to the man that he wakes him aweary,
Blinder than blind.


Breathes there a sigh from the transient pallor?
Yearns there a whisper from heaven's new sheen?
Comes there a hope to inspire him to valour
Echoed from edge of the sleep that has been?
How on the grey fields find him fruition?
How in the stark frost rouse him to move?
How in the thin white light of perdition
Find him a love?


Fears he a falsity hinting of morning,
Echoed of genii 'twixt mutter and grin;
Shivers his spirit, and takes for a warning
Light that is sunless, and hope that is sin.
Shall there be wailing, or shall there be drinking?
Shall there be mercy, or shall there be hate?
Shall there be eagerness freed from the thinking?
What is the fate?


See, as he watches, that dawn before dawning
Streams to wild apex against the high dark;
Faint, whence the starless abysses are yawning,
Cries the far herald--"Arouse ye, and hark!"
Strained is his soul to the voice of the message,
New to his ear is the tone of the cry;
Strained is his sight to interpret the presage
There in the sky.


Glimmer there is, but a glimmer that goeth,
The faint false morning that owns not a sun;
Yet he can see by it; ay, and it showeth
Far are the sands of the night-time run;
Darkness will swallow the shine for an hour--
A black last hour ere the true day be--
Lo! the man searches to pluck him a flower
While he can see.


Total the pressure no impulse that knoweth,
Forth from loose elements onward to life,
Stress to be one, that asunder yet throweth,
Stress to prevail in an infinite strife;
Blind is the wind that brings thistledown hither,
Numb is the sod where the thistledown roots,
Deaf are the rainfloods that water or wither
Where the plant shoots.


What does the man find, prize of his waking,
Said by the silence, shown by the dark?
What is the meaning beyond his mistaking?
What is the mute aim worthy his mark?
Infinite ages through infinite travail
Have brought him afire and aware and aghast,
And awfully bid him a dream to unravel
Here at the last.


Driven a centre of life into loving,
Driven through fury of love into sin,
Driven of sin into direst reproving,
Driven by bitterness sorrow to win;
Atoms must be, if the atoms shall mingle;
Prosper the unit or prosper the clan?
What is the man's life?--cosmical? single?
Who is the man?


Claim of a universe simple of tissue
Ever to break into multiple mind;
Clash of all units to mix and bear issue,
Jangle of fetters that sunder and bind;
Strong is the stress of the life and the moving,
One is the blindness and one is the might,
Complex the suffering, scattered the proving,
Diverse the right.


If there be victory, who shall declare it?
Victor or vanquished? and what of the claim?
Is there a boon, will he treasure or spare it?
Shall he fight hardest for love or for fame?
What though the plaint of his heart unavailing
Deaden to silence of passionate will,
Shall he not firmlier fight for prevailing?
Conqueror still?


Ha! there is light, though it warms but a little;
Ha! there is morning, though naked and cold;
Waking be welcome, for visions are brittle;
Patience, ye prophets! ye heroes, be bold!
Lo! the distress, the despair, the aloneness,--
Fire of blind forces and cold of the soul,--
Till the torn world grope back to its oneness,
Warm with the whole.

Louisa Sarah Bevington

Louisa Sarah Bevington's other poems:
  1. Merle Wood
  2. Her Worst and Best
  3. Steel or Gold?
  4. Not Ye Who Goad
  5. Egoisme a Deux

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