Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ICONOCLAST, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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THE ICONOCLAST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: He slid like lightning down the steeple
Last Line: But, 'ware the wonder-birth!
Subject(s): Iconoclasm


He slid like lightning down the steeple, --
Flashed through their streets like rapid flame,
In rags and tatters red and yellow,
With tongue in cheek -- a waspish fellow.
He louped and leered at all the people
And bade them blush for shame.

He seemed the gadfly Io lowed at,
The sheep-tick in their sheepish wool.
He woke their sleep with ribald laughter.
Their prejudices quaked thereafter.
Their each sententiousness he strode at,
And seized its nose to pull.

They held hard by their ancient steadings,
While dust-clouds rose and cobwebs flew.
Ubiquitous he pranced to pillage
Each hallowed custom of their village.
Their rural prints all blazed with headings:
"The dog shall have his due!"

Stout burgesses grew yellow-mottled
With spleen. Stout constables pursued
The whirling waif. Still laughing madder
He banged them with his buffoon's bladder.
He choked their mayor scarlet-wattled,
With cries of "Platitude!"

A town of pride, a town of decent
And comfortable lights and views
Was Snore-by-Day, with none to scorn it,
When suddenly forthbuzzed this hornet,
Flame-hot, heretically recent,
To startle and confuse.

So for his day he held the rostrum --
Electric messenger to Earth!
And eyes were rubbed and heart-beats heightened.
The town awoke. The town was frightened.
They'll sleep again in half a lustrum --
But, 'ware the wonder-birth!





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