Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EROS, by GEORGE SANTAYANA



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EROS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Who wast thou, standing by that humble door
Last Line: The god they prattle of, and not perceive.
Subject(s): Deception


Who wast thou, standing by that humble door,
Strange Child, that my heart stopped, beholding thee?
Why in that common flesh and raiment poor
But half disguise thy dread divinity?

Had I not seen the holy thing thou wast,
I had enjoyed thee, nothing held in awe;
Had not my heart been smitten, I had passed;
But, double soul, I craved and yet I saw.

If I had taken both thy hands in mine
And said: I love thee; that is all I know,
And thou, false image of a grace divine,
Hadst kissed me on the lips, and answered so;

Ah, then together as we lay asleep,
Out of my arms had fled the subtle god.
Deceived, aghast, I had awaked, to creep
A worm with worms, a clod against a clod.

I turned the helm to seaward, mocked the gleaming
Quick thunderbolts of Jove that blinded me;
My joy is safe, I labour but in seeming,
My bark lies anchored in a distant sea.

As a cloud swells and melts in liquid air
I draw and give again my measured breath;
The life-blood flows; a pleasure like despair
Runs through my breast, and love is near to death.

This dying is my life; the infinite
Renews me. As a grape the vintner strains
My heart is crushed, that the red wine of it
May course, immortal Nature, in thy veins.

Yet the profane have marvelled at my prayer,
And cried: When did he love, or when believe?
They little know that in my soul I bear
The God they prattle of, and not perceive.





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