Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TASTING THE EARTH, by JAMES OPPENHEIM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TASTING THE EARTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In a dark hour, tasting the earth
Last Line: In a dark hour, tasting the earth.
Subject(s): Earth; World

In a dark hour, tasting the Earth.

As I lay on my couch in the muffled night, and the rain
lashed my window,
And my forsaken heart would give me no rest, no pause
and no peace,
Though I turned my face far from the wailing of
my bereavement.
Then I said: I will eat of this sorrow to its last shred,
I will take it unto me utterly,
I will see if I be not strong enough to contain it.
What do I fear? Discomfort?
How can it hurt me, this bitterness?

The miracle, then!
Turning toward it, and giving up to it,
I found it deeper than my own self.
O dark great mother-globe so close beneath me --
It was she with her inexhaustible grief,
Ages of blood-drenched jungles, and the smoking of craters,
and the roar of tempests,
And the moan of the forsaken seas,
It was she with the hills beginning to walk in the shapes
of the dark-hearted animals,
It was she risen, dashing away tears and praying to dumb
skies, in the pomp-crumbling tragedy of man.
It was she, container of all griefs, and the buried dust
of broken hearts,
Cry of the Christs and the lovers and the
child-stripped mothers,
And ambition gone down to defeat, and the battle overborne,
And the dreams that have no waking.

My heart became her ancient heart:
On the food of the strong I fed, on dark strange
life itself:
Wisdom-giving and somber with the unremitting love of ages.

There was dank soil in my mouth,
And bitter sea on my lips,
In a dark hour, tasting the Earth.

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