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



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THE MAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All our light mockeries / have ever paled before thy white desire
Last Line: A power man knows not, that doth rend and shake him!
Subject(s): Courage; Mankind; Men; Valor; Bravery; Human Race


All our light mockeries
Have ever paled before Thy white desire,
Oh, keeper of the keys
Of earth and water, air and fire,
Render of all the world's vain panoplies
To find beneath the true heart in the liar!

Consorter with the base,
The outcast, thieves and harlots, fools and knaves,—
Pure well of mighty grace
And mercy on the sinners and the slaves,—
Strong warrior and strong runner of the race,
Challenging even Death among his graves!

Thy creeds outwear their zest.
Now it is dogma and not love they mete.
All we can do is jest
And toss Thy name for cursing in the street,
And all Thy nations shudder in unrest,
And Thy wild truth fares far with blood-stained feet.

Smug speech of Thee is heard,
As "This is He!" or "Nay! This likelier one."
But not Thy word—Thy word—
Thy vast example, that too blinding sun,
Whereby these nineteen centuries are stirred
Darkly and deep with knowledge just begun.

Thy patience still is great,
Who stirredst the waters never to be stilled.
Through Thee we recreate
This world, until those things so strongly willed
In Thy vast heart bring forth the true estate
Of heart and soul, with all Thine hopes fulfilled.

And if men say "How prove
That life, that self, through all of history's lies?"
Supreme Idea of Love
And Service, where before did Man devise
Such clean, clear courage, half a world to move,
Brooding no metaphysic Paradise?

Gautama, Socrates,
All the "seditious" leaders of all ages
Pale by Thy side. All these
Are gathered and transfigured in Thy pages.
Read in the spirit and the mind agrees
In awe and light and vision that presages.

Twist Thee and turn they will
To all interpretations weak or base.
Thy metaphors are still
Nests of sharp swords for fools in every place,
And Thine interpreters are quick to kill
Thy truth, that binds the depths and heights of Space.

This—with a vision dim,—
Eyes that can arrogate no mystic chrism,—
This do I think of Him,
The valiant spirit's one and sure baptism,
The white light of the world wherein there swim
All the strange hues refracted from Life's prism.

So far the boundaries gleam
Of Space—or Heaven—where Man shall overtake Him,
And this stupendous dream
Engulf Man's thought and into glory wake him,
I cease, lest I blaspheme
A power Man knows not, that doth rend and shake him!





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