Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FEAST OF THE GODS, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE FEAST OF THE GODS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: From a high tower I gazed at night
Last Line: One psalter. ... Will we never know these gods are dead, and cannot live?
Subject(s): Goddesses & Gods; Imagism; Mythology; Stones; Granite; Rocks

From a high tower I gazed at night
On a great city hazed with light
And humming like a dynamo life's various, vibrant, human strain.
Domed by the blue and star-bright skies,
The crowds beneath my peering eyes
Seemed vast, dark shuttles, to and fro plying the threads of joy and pain.

Of joy and pain, of death and birth!
The whole refrain of this our Earth
Thrilled me as though my nerves were wires tuned to the universal theme.
And the great light below increased
As if the gods were all at feast! ...
A thousand multicolored fires swam on the glamour of my dream,—

For veils fell slowly from my sight.
I stood beneath a Roman night
Within a torchlit, templed square. (God, and how long, how long ago!)
In the square's midst were tables spread.
A great proud awning flapped o'erhead.
And all the gods were feasting there, with servers hasting to and fro.

As from the ground, and all around,
There swelled a solemn chanting sound.
Yet all untouched their banquet lay. The gods moved not. Their feast grew cold.
Stranger their utter stillness grew,
Till piercingly I gazed—and knew
What powers had swayed that ancient day,—blank images of bronze and

And still that solemn chanting sound
Swelled on the air and wrapped me round,
Till shudderingly the vision passed. Once more my city sprang to light.
Its crowds like shuttles plied again
The multitudinous fates of men,
And ponderously I felt its vast and diverse pulses shake the night.

Despite the poet, sage, and priest,
There the old gods sat all at feast!
There in that haze of light below, offered the best all men can give!
Blank images of gold and stone,
Hearing this whirling world intone
One psalter. ... Will we never know these gods are dead, and cannot live?

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