Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DESIRE OF NATIONS, by EDWIN MARKHAM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DESIRE OF NATIONS, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Earth will go back to her lost youth
Last Line: More than the light of law that rose on rome.
Subject(s): Jesus Christ; Nations; Peace

And the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of

Earth will go back to her lost youth,
And life grow deep and wonderful as truth,
When the wise King out of the nearing Heaven comes
To break the spell of long millenniums—
To build with song again
The broken hope of men—
To hush and heroize the world,
Under the flag of Brotherhood unfurled.
And He will come some day:
Already is His star upon the way!
He comes, O world, He comes!
But not with bugle-cry nor roll of doubling drums.

Nay, for He comes to loosen and unbind,
To build the lofty purpose in the mind,
To stir the heart's deep chord. ...
No rude horns parleying, no shock of shields;
Nor as of old the glory of the Lord
To half-awakened shepherds in the fields,
Looking with foolish faces on the rush
Of the Great Splendor, when the pulsing hush
Came o'er the hills, came o'er the heavens afar
Where on their cliff of stars the watching seraphs are.

Nor as of old when first the Strong One trod,
The Power of sepulchers—our Risen God!
When on that deathless morning in the dark,
He quit the Garden of the Sepulcher,
Setting the oleander boughs astir,
And pausing at the gate with backward hark.
Nay, nor as when the Hero-King of Heaven
Came with upbraiding to his faint Eleven,
And found the world-way to his bright feet barred,
And hopeless then because men's hearts were hard.

Nor will He come like carnal kings of old,
With pomp of pilfered gold;
Nor like the pharisees with pride of prayer;
Nor as the stumbling foolish stewards dream
In tedious argument and milkless creed.
But in the passion of the heart-warm deed
Will come the Man Supreme.
Yea, for He comes to lift the Public Care—
To build on earth the Vision hung in air.
This is the one fulfilment of his Law—
The one Fact in the mockeries that seem.
This is the vision that the prophets saw—
The Comrade Kingdom builded in their dream.
No, not as in that elder day
Comes now the King upon the human way.
He comes with power: his white unfearing face
Shines through the Social Passion of the race.
He comes to frame the freedom of the Law,
To touch these men of earth
With a feeling of life's oneness and its worth,
A feeling of its mystery and awe.

And when He comes into the world gone wrong,
He will rebuild her beauty with a song.
To every heart He will its own dream be:
One moon has many phantoms in the sea.
Out of the North the norns will cry to men:
"Baldur the Beautiful has come again!"
The flutes of Greece will whisper from the dead:
"Apollo has unveiled his sunbright head!"
The stones of Thebes and Memphis will find voice:
"Osiris comes: O tribes of Time, rejoice!"
And social architects who build the State,
Serving the Dream at citadel and gate,
Will hail Him coming through the labor-hum.
And glad quick cries will go from man to man:
"Lo, He has come, our Christ the Artisan—
The King who loved the lilies, He has come!"

He will arrive, our Counselor and Chief;
And with bleak faces lighted up will come
The earth-worn mothers from their martyrdom,
To tell Him of their grief.
And glad girls caroling from field and town
Will go to meet Him with the labor-crown,
The new crown woven of the heading wheat.
And men will sit down at his sacred feet;
And He will say—the King—
"Come, let us live the poetry we sing!"
And these, his burning words, will break the ban—
Words that will grow to be
On continent, on sea,
The rallying cry of man. ...
He comes to make the long injustice right—
Comes to push back the shadow of the night,
The gray Tradition full of flint and flaw—
Comes to wipe out the insults to the soul,
The insults of the Few against the Whole,
The insults they make righteous with a law.

Yea, He will bear the Safety of the State;
For in his still and rhythmic steps will be
The power and music of Alcyone,
Who holds the swift heavens in their starry fate.
Yea, He will lay on souls the power of peace,
And send on kingdoms torn the sense of home—
More than the fire of Joy that burned on Greece,
More than the light of Law that rose on Rome.

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