Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PRELUDE; FOR GEOFFREY GORER, by EDITH SITWELL

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PRELUDE; FOR GEOFFREY GORER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When our long sun into the dark had set
Last Line: Remakes all things and men in holiness.
Subject(s): Death; Graves; Heroism; Dead, The; Tombs; Tombstones; Heroes; Heroines


WHEN our long sun into the dark had set
And made but winter branches of his rays—
I left my heart.
So doth a shadow leave
The body when our long dark sun is gone.

Now the black chaos of the Polar night
Melts in the hearts of the forgotten Dead;—
The tears turned ice about each loveless head
Are changed into bird-plumaged bird-voiced springs
And the sap rises like a bird that sings.

The cold wind creaking in my plant-shrill blood
Seems spring beginning in some earthen bud
Though immemorial, the winter's shade
Furred my cold blood wherein plant, beast, are laid,
In that dark earth from which shall spring the soul

As dark and broken hints of sciences
Forgotten, and strange satyrine alliances
Of beast and soul lie hidden in the old
Immensity and desert of the cold.

Hoarse as a dog's bark the furled heavy leaves
Are hairy as a dog: furred fire barks for the shape
Of hoarse-voiced animals; cold air agape
Whines to be shut in the water's shape and plumes;
All things break from the imprisoning winter's glooms;

All things, all hearts awake—
Until the gold within the miser's heart
Would buy the siren isles and many a chart
From dream to dream, and the death-blinded eyes
See beyond wild bird-winged discoveries.

All creatures praise the sun in their degree:
The mother bear with thick forestial fur
And grumbling footsteps, lumbering primal sleep
Of the winter earth, as furry as a bear
And grumbling deep,
No longer sees her cubs as a black blot
As clots of thick black darkness; primal form
Is shaped from that thick night—
Begins from this black chaos: life is light.

The stunted long-armed gardener mossed as trees
Has known before his birth—
For he was born and shaped close to the earth—
Best of all things are water, and hot gold
Of the rough fruitful sun: best of all things are these.
So the slow gold of his hot days and rays
Ripened within our earth and changed to fruits,
So the cold twisted water changed to roots
Of apple-trees.

But I, a harpy like a nightingale,
A nightingale that seems a harpy, mourn
With my heart changed now from a black blind stone
That rolls down the abyss, to a ghost gone
Or a black shadow cast
Upon the dust where gossips of mean Death—
The small and gilded scholars of the Fly

That feed upon the crowds and their dead breath
Still buzz and stink where the bright heroes die
Of the dust's rumours and the old world's fevers.
Sometimes in the arena like a drum
My heart sounds, calls the heroes from their shade
Till with the march of tides, those tall ghosts come
Where Fortune, Virtue, Folly, Wisdom, these—
Mimes garbed as aeons, by horizons bound—
With monstrous trumpetings of suns at war
Amid earth-quaking rumour of crowds whispering
And bull-voiced bellowings of tropic light
And the huge bulk of Folly fell
From her world-height in the arena. Hell
Has dyed its fires upon the fairest faces
And where the hero smiled, bare Death grimaces.
But one who changed the complexion of all nights,
Whose lips have fired Persepolis, to me
Spoke then of eagle-winged Icarian flights
Of the steel men across an ageless sea,
And continents and quays where the one nation
Of the blind smiling statues still abide
Beneath giant suns whose sound no man hath known.
And huge horizons and the enchanted tide,
The azure unattainable and wide,
These they have known, and in their marble veins
Are all the summer sorrow of the rose,
And siren waves.
In the agonic noon
When the black pyres and pyramids of shade
Are mute as solemn and revengeful ghosts
Left from the tombs of night, I, a ghost laid,
Walk like a ghost among the city ways,
Pressed on by hungry continents of stone.
Yet still the light brings life to those unborn
And still the statues hear the sirens' song
Across the deep-boughed gardens of the sea.

Where the first founts and the deep waterways
Of the young light flow down and lie like peace
Upon the upturned faces of the blind,
The crooked has a shadow light makes straight,
The shallow places gain their depth again,
It comes to bless;
And man-made chasms between man and man
Of creeds and tongues are filled.
The guiltless light
Remakes all things and men in holiness.

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