Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHEN GOD WEARIED, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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WHEN GOD WEARIED, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In a south breeze that swept the hill
Last Line: Towered the comfortable sky!
Subject(s): God


In a south breeze that swept the hill
One night, when all the stars hung still
And twinkling in the lustrous void,
I stood, and dreamed this world destroyed,
That the vast heavens bent to scan
A blank world, innocent of Man.

Chaotic effort, vain pretence
Melted before the innocence
Of an Earth uninhabited
Even by the pale and solemn dead.
It was as if no life had been,
And no first shame and no first sin.

The shrieks of creeds, the groans of wars
Were dumb, beneath the steady stars;
No Man-made discords, song or weeping, --
Not even the thought of thousands sleeping
To waken, piteous or gay,
To the prompt, unrelenting Day.

Only the things of little brain,
Of natural joy and natural pain;
Beasts and birds, like as trees and flowers
Dreamed through that hush that numbed their powers.

And, while no sound came, far or near,
I felt God's weariness ensphere
The universe. His breath respired
Faintly, more faint. God, even, tired
Of his long joy and his long pain, --
This World. He slept to dream again!

And the south breeze breathed on and on
Of no more hope, of no more dawn,
Of no more effort, naught to plan,
With all the world erased of Man.

But I remained; a being, no less,
With the world's weight of consciousness;
First, in an ecstasy of release,
Feeling my heart expand with peace
Such as no man on earth has known,
And then, -- intolerably alone.

So, on my eyes all Earth's delight
Flashed like a pageant blinding-bright,
Illumined by my utter fear,
Till even the most minute grew clear;
Mountains in sunlight, storm and snow;
Green forest lands, green fields below;
Cataract rivers, heaving seas
Of dazzling sapphire; writhen trees,
Billows of flowers and flights of birds;
Beasts of the jungle, flocks and herds

Familiar; all the clouds that blow
Gorgeous with color across the glow
Where the sunrise and sunset meet;
Forked golden lightnings, pearly sleet,
Tremendous thunder-bursts; all, all
That turns this life so magical!
Before my eyes they mingled, most
Like the wild banners of an host
In utter rout, wave on rich wave
Withdrawing to the Brain that gave.

And then the cities marching came,
Their walls arock, their roofs aflame;
Bridges and ships, a splendid spoil;
All the inventions of Man's toil
Surged in great epic pictures past,
Uprushed in smoke, and sought the vast.

Thus I knew beauty, and the worth
Of every bitter task on earth.
Thus I knew awe naught else could give, --
And one supreme desire, -- to live!

All things flashed pristine on my view;
The dreams even God could not undo,
The splendors no high Heaven could dull,
The World even God could not annul!

"Aye, weary of your plan!" I cried,
"But this was wrought, and shall abide.
Our agony makes consecrate
A World you may not uncreate!
You gave us Beauty past all thought, --
But we have travailed, we have wrought
In blood and tears to build it new!
And marred it? But can You undo
Your thought, for that? How heavily
We labor toward eternity
With clumsy visions, acts how mean!
Yet -- 'tis too late to shift the scene,
Or Space's myriad stars would dart
Their spears, and pierce You to the heart!"

I spoke in anger terror-born;
And dreamed, and woke, and it was morn.
The real world bound me round again,
Cherished and close, and loud with men,
Labor and laughter, grief and love.
The cheerful sun shone out above.
Like a blue wall above me, high
Towered the comfortable sky!





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