Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EMERGENCY, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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EMERGENCY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I've born it out. There was n't much to bear
Last Line: But that's enough. Let's talk of something else!


I've born it out. There wasn't much to bear
By your own tenets, but there was for me --
A flaming onslaught, cohorts furiously
Charging the ramparts, fearful thunders booming,
Lightning and holocaust, and Terror looming
With black war-towers on the skyline there!

You saw not even a gnat to make one wince
While your own buoyant thoughts beat up the blue.
Let me be glad of that. The happier you!
I found myself alone to face disaster
Through age-long seconds. While your pulse beat faster
For mirth, my own -- stopped dead, a moment since.

Then, at my elbow -- and whole worlds away --
You turned, and I was snatching at my breath
After a sudden bout with worse than death,
With worse than beasts of Ephesus, uprisen
One moment from my heart that is their prison.
I bore it out. That's all there is to say.

They flash unwarning on our dozing acts,
The angel or the fiend. It seems to me
There's nothing too sublime for Man to be,
In such clear moments, -- naught too foully crawling!
What "self" is most our own, when this appalling
Apocalypse lights up the inmost facts?

Something is changed, even though one drops back
In the next instant to the old routine,
Forgets the risk, and is, as he has been,
The slowly-trailing, patient slug of Time,
Neither contemptible nor yet sublime,
Inching with pain along the beaten track.

Something is changed! The mind paints heavens and hells.
And I, their dizzy colors in my brain,
Wonder just what is "sane" and what "insane,"
And what one can be sure of -- where we're master
Of our own triumphs or our own disaster.
But that's enough. Let's talk of something else!





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