Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MEADOW STREAM, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE MEADOW STREAM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Young joy to me is as the miser's gold
Last Line: And oaks, and brooks, and fishes' human eyes.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund

YOUNG joy to me is as the miser's gold, --
I tell it often, but have never told.

The boy has called for his expectant friend
At the Swan yard; this day they moved to spend
In pastures, not beyond the church-tower's eyes,
But in their faith immense for enterprise.
The clock is beating nine, no time to waste,
Adventure's ceremoniousness is haste;
They take the path where lucky cherries fall,
Pass gardens where the golden marrows sprawl,
Their willow-rods ride on their shoulders, clear
Of elders damp and brambles arching here;
Before, behind, on his own interest jogs
The mongrel Bell, whose shaggy shapeless lugs
And one sharp eye protest his love of war;
And look, the pastures! Summer evermore!
Acres immeasurable, Arabian airs,
Streams with a thousand changes, reedy lairs,
Pavements of amber, cavernous recoils,
Water that sleeps, and that which sings and toils,
And feathery jungles, and strong cloistering boughs
Where well the fugitive King might make his house.

But kings and fairies too must take their turn;
The hunter's passion now is strong to burn;
Yet here the hunters and the hunted seem
Equally matched; the baits float down the stream,
And brilliant eyes refuse, and fins deflect,
And claim for water-spirits more respect.

One gudgeon, deigning movement, looks and nibbles,
And twenty others sleep among the pebbles;
Ambition stoops to victims of less size,
And stonefish come to land in blazing dyes,
So unexpected and so beautiful
That they live on in the small sand-wharfed pool;
And, while these there explore their bounds, the zest
For taking others has been much decreased;
Now, murmurs noonday, the most splendid flowers,
Supplied with golden light, dream silver showers;
Now what could be more sweet to boys or gods
Than that cold flash of water to which nods
The overhanging fern? Nothing more sweet;
Wave-fingers at the breast make the heart beat
As though a star's white light in raindrops fell
On the bare forehead. Thus the sacred well
Is passed, and now the far root-canopy
Issues its people, swift and slippery,
Past ivory feet, and bodies light as reeds.

These are discovery's moments, and what heeds
Old Bell there, with his world of bones and rats,
Of most irreverent birds, large cows, and cats?
Panting he lies, and simulates content
Except for one lean wasp, but mark the event.
Seized by his sudden masters, down he plumbs
In the deep swim, from which he humbly comes,
And pulls, and scales the mound, and flounces free
His deluged coat, and rolls assiduously.
That done, he grins, and cordially lies down
Again, and in again his dogship's thrown:
Patiently paddling out, he climbs the shore,
Dries, creeps a little apart; perhaps once more
This thing may happen; he had best go wide,
And still be friends with distance on his side;
"Too much of water" has been cause of grief.

The air is glowing like a cankered leaf;
Thunder is on the march, his brazen shield
Waves a red horror over the free field;
He towers aloft, and holds his black brow high,
Gestures his oath in fire; the sheepfolds cry,
The trees sham dead, and young adventurers run
To find a shelter, but where offers one?
The war in heaven advances with a mass
That turns each oak into a piece of grass,
The enchanted meadow whizzes rain and flame
And blackness volumes, volleys. These who came
With such wild-rosiness now palely hide,
And, when the roar is lessened, the high tide
Of violence falling back in a grey foam,
Chill and monotonous, their path is home;
There, though they know it not, the secret flowers
Of all their travelling's delighted hours,
And thence, before to-morrow's dawn, it springs
That they are one with elves and legend-kings,
That light beyond the sun's is on their skies,
And oaks, and brooks, and fishes' human eyes.

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