Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ANCIENT GODDESS; IN TWO PICTURES, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN ANCIENT GODDESS; IN TWO PICTURES, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: The time grows perilous; forth she comes once more
Last Line: A moonlit sanctuary from time's worst powers?
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): England; Landscape; English


THE time grows perilous; forth she comes once more,
The ghost, the dying lady and dead star;
Empress and votaress, to whom the roar
Of ocean towers from many a reef and bar,
Nor less love's whispering dares respond so far;
She comes, upon whose tombless face have I
Gazed long in statued muteness singular,
These eyes enchanted by that inward eye;
What tragic Need impels this ghost into our sky?

Herself impels and moves the life we know,
But whither? in what thought? To what sad grove
Guides she the stolen spirit? When the glow
Of morning clothes us, up spring joy and love;
The sunbeam is perennial treasure-trove.
The sun's a triumph, and his laughing zest
Round the world's homesteads huntsman-like arove
Makes man much more the man. This other quest
Lures out the voiceless bird, unwarms the empty nest.

Veiled now in violet wreathes she gliding mocks
The taken sense; what frown, what mal-ease there!
She is but dusty seas and steely rocks,
She is a brooding badness in the air.
But while we speak, we think afresh, nor dare
Assail what so intrinse and magic dwells
In the night's breast. And soon all snow-white there
Palely she moves. That paleness nothing tells.
Unknowable, she passes all our sentinels.


ABOVE the whole world, walking the blue space
Where many worlds are pale or glittering wheeled,
We know that Phoebe dotes upon this place,
This tiny place, this lodging in the field,
Dearest of all; so calmly yearning
She holds the open sky,
And every crevice, path and turning
Lures her love-diffusing eye
Till all with not a little joy confess
They are the chosen of that loveliness.

There is a sluice through whose rude-masoned stones
And fissured planks our timid river falls.
Day with his loud light quells his watery tones,
But hear him now! as though a sea-god calls:
Hushed then awhile, then tide-like booming --
The hill-top wanderer hears,
And she on high, without fault blooming,
In his shadowed crystal peers,
And fishes rise that in the silver blaze
Hurl their new sheen and diamonded rays.

Meanwhile the woods with ichor in their limbs
Wake in a dance of slow religious love;
A whispering music in this spinney brims,
Floats heavenward; fades; then answers that great grove.
Youth here with light and eager greeting
And age with museful sighs
In tune and order claim the meeting
With the enchantress of the skies --
All, all our valley, to the tiniest flowers,
And shyest wings, is singing, She is ours.

Nor could she touch with fonder glad caress
Even the churl outlands of our country homes.
Conceive you cannot that such pleasantness
Smiles on unmerit when from here she roams:
The ridge so flinty and so boorish
Seems a bosom dreaming warm,
The swamp sharp-sworded, bleak and moorish,
Glows like lamplight from a farm,
And even the condemned house reveals a bloom
Hovering like pity in each suspect room.

In our kind cottages the babies wake,
At once with hasty fear the mothers raise
Their patient heads; then not a sound they make,
For beautiful's the infant in amaze
At latticed moonlight, branching holy
Upon the fairy wall;
The child voice musically and lowly
With a new note, a bird call,
Increases what appeared past all increase,
And deepens even the mother's love and peace.

More wonders yet in this our lucky vale,
When the moon marks and clasps it for her joy!
Have we not seen, when moon and nightingale
Enlustred the green season, some young boy
Beside the old tower's solemn stature
At watch, in heaven alone,
As though this night ancestral nature
Called him there to make it known
That he in after-time should find such hours
A moonlit sanctuary from time's worst powers?

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