Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SEVEN TWILIGHTS: 4, by CONRAD AIKEN



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SEVEN TWILIGHTS: 4, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: This is the hour,' she said, 'of transmutation'
Last Line: "gathers the stars together and goes out."
Subject(s): Moon; Night; Bedtime


"This is the hour," she said, "of transmutation:
It is the eucharist of the evening, changing
All things to beauty. Now the ancient river,
That all day under the arch was polished jade,
Becomes the ghost of a river, thinly gleaming
Under a silver cloud. . . . It is not water:
It is that azure stream in which the stars
Bathe at the daybreak, and become immortal. . . ."
"And the moon," said I -- not thus to be outdone --
"What of the moon? Over the dusty plane-trees
Which crouch in the dusk above their feeble lanterns,
Each coldly lighted by his tiny faith;
The moon, the waxen moon, now almost full,
Creeps whitely up. . . . Westward the waves of cloud,
Vermilion, crimson, violet, stream on the air,
Shatter to golden flakes in the icy green
Translucency of twilight. . . . And the moon
Drinks up their light, and as they fade or darken,
Brightens. . . . O monstrous miracle of the twilight,
That one should live because the others die!"
"Strange too," she answered, "that upon this azure
Pale-gleaming ghostly stream, impalpable --
So faint, so fine that scarcely it bears up
The petals that the lantern strews upon it, --
These great black barges float like apparitions,
Loom in the silver of it, beat upon it,
Moving upon it as dragons move on air."
"Thus always," then I answered, -- looking never
Toward her face, so beautiful and strange
It grew, with feeding on the evening light, --
"The gross is given, by inscrutable God,
Power to beat wide wings upon the subtle.
Thus we ourselves, so fleshly, fallible, mortal,
Stand here, for all our foolishness, transfigured:
Hung over nothing in an arch of light
While one more evening like a wave of silence
Gathers the stars together and goes out."





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