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The Unknown Eros

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   ‘Many speak wisely, some inerrably:Witness the beast who talk’d that should have bray’d,And Caiaphas that saidExpedient ’twas for all that One should die;But what availsWhen Love’s right accent from their wisdom fails,And the Truth-criers know not what they cry!Say, wherefore thou,As under bondage of some bitter vow,Warblest no word,When all the rest are shouting to be heard?Why leave the fervid running just when Fame’Gan whispering of thy nameAmongst the hard-pleased Judges of the Course?Parch’d is thy crystal-flowing source?Pierce, then, with thought’s steel probe, the trodden ground,Till passion’s buried floods be found;Intend thine eyeInto the dim and undiscover’d skyWhose lustres are the pulsings of the heart,And promptly, as thy trade is, watch to chartThe lonely suns, the mystic hazes and throng’d sparkles brightThat, named and number’d rightIn sweet, transpicuous words, shall glow alwayWith Love’s three-stranded ray,Red wrath, compassion golden, lazuline delight.’   Thus, in reproof of my despondency,My Mentor; and thus I:   O, season strange for song!And yet some timely power persuades my lips.Is’t England’s parting soul that nerves my tongue,As other Kingdoms, nearing their eclipse,Have, in their latest bards, uplifted strongThe voice that was their voice in earlier days?Is it her sudden, loud and piercing cry,The note which those that seem too weak to sighWill sometimes utter just before they die?   Lo, weary of the greatness of her ways,There lies my Land, with hasty pulse and hard,Her ancient beauty marr’d,And, in her cold and aimless roving sight,Horror of light;Sole vigour left in her last lethargy,Save when, at bidding of some dreadful breath,The rising deathRolls up with force;And then the furiously gibbering corseShakes, panglessly convuls’d, and sightless stares,Whilst one Physician pours in rousing wines,One anodynes,And one declaresThat nothing ails it but the pains of growth.   My last look lothIs taken; and I turn, with the reliefOf knowing that my life-long hope and griefAre surely vain,To that unshapen time to come, when She,A dim, heroic Nation long since dead,The foulness of her agony forgot,Shall all benignly shedThrough ages vastThe ghostly grace of her transfigured pastOver the present, harass’d and forlorn,Of nations yet unborn;And this shall be the lotOf those who, in the bird-voice and the blastOf her omniloquent tongue,Have truly sungOr greatly said,To shew as oneWith those who have best done,And be as rays,Thro’ the still altering world, around her changeless head.   Therefore no ’plaint be mineOf listeners none,No hope of render’d use or proud reward,In hasty times and hard;But chants as of a lonely thrush’s throatAt latest eve,That does in each calm noteBoth joy and grieve;Notes few and strong and fine,Gilt with sweet day’s decline,And sad with promise of a different sun....