Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ORACLES, by ALFRED EDWARD HOUSMAN



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THE ORACLES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high dodona mountain
Last Line: Their hair.
Alternate Author Name(s): Housman, A. E.
Subject(s): Freedom; Liberty


'Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high Dodona
mountain
When winds were in the oakenshaws and all the
cauldrons tolled,
And mute's the midland navel-stone beside the singing
fountain,
And echoes list to silence now where gods told lies of
old.

I took my question to the shrine that has not ceased from
speaking,
The heart within, that tells the truth and tells it twice
as plain;
And from the cave of oracles I heard the priestess shrieking
That she and I should surely die and never live again.

Oh priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense
I think it;
But let the screaming echoes rest, and froth your
mouth no more.
'Tis true there's better boose than brine, but he that
drowns must drink it;
And oh, my lass, the news is news that men have heard
before.

The King with half the East at heel is marched from lands
of morning;
Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight
the air.
And he that stands will die for nought, and home there's
no returning.
The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed
their hair.






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