Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SEVEN TWILIGHTS: 7, by CONRAD AIKEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SEVEN TWILIGHTS: 7, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: In the long silence of the sea, the seaman
Last Line: That dreamed-of harbor lies which we would find.
Subject(s): Dreams; Goddesses & Gods; Mythology; Sea; Nightmares; Ocean

In the long silence of the sea, the seaman
Strikes twice his bell of bronze. The short note wavers
And loses itself in the blue realm of water.
One sea-gull, paired with a shadow, wheels, wheels;
Circles the lonely ship by wave and trough;
Lets down his feet, strikes at the breaking water,
Draws up his golden feet, beats wings, and rises
Over the mast. . . . Light from a crimson cloud
Crimsons the sluggishly creeping foams of waves;
The seaman, poised in the bow, rises and falls
As the deep forefoot finds a way through waves;
And there below him, steadily gazing westward,
Facing the wind, the sunset, the long cloud,
The goddess of the ship, proud figurehead,
Smiles inscrutably, plunges to crying waters,
Emerges streaming, gleaming, with jewels falling
Fierily from carved wings and golden breasts;
Steadily glides a moment, then swoops again.
Carved by the hand of man, grieved by the wind;
Worn by the tumult of all the tragic seas,
Yet smiling still, unchanging, smiling still
Inscrutably, with calm eyes and golden brow --
What is it that she sees and follows always,
Beyond the molten and ruined west, beyond
The light-rimmed sea, the sky itself? What secret
Gives wisdom to her purpose? Now the cloud
In final conflagration pales and crumbles
Into the darkening waters. Now the stars
Burn softly through the dusk. The seaman strikes
His small lost bell again, watching the west
As she below him watches. . . . O pale goddess
Whom not the darkness, even, or rain or storm,
Changes; whose great wings are bright with foam,
Whose breasts are cold as the sea, whose eyes forever
Inscrutably take that light whereon they look --
Speak to us! Make us certain, as you are,
That somewhere, beyond wave and wave and wave,
That dreamed-of harbor lies which we would find.

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