Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE TROUBLED SPIRIT, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN



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THE TROUBLED SPIRIT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Said god, go, spirit, thou hast served me well
Last Line: Some weariness, while time smiles to himself.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): World War I; First World War


SAID God, Go, spirit, thou hast served me well
In these our palaces, and choose out one star
Of all the universe beneath us lies,
And see what other beauty I have made.
So spoke the Almighty, in whose eyes there burned
A dimmer light, and whose bowed head revealed
Some weariness: while Time smiled to himself.

Now takes the spirit thought, whether to search
The rosy fires of suns innumerable
That seem not to have rest even for a spirit,
Or to some tinier satellite to fly
And kindlier radiance beckoning.
Thus comes he

To earth, and sees the restless water curve
Round lands wherefrom a rumour smokes, scarce loud
As the voices of the waters, and there seems
In these lands but a quiet interchange
Of music, jarred, yet nigh to full concent.
So comes the spirit.
And now, passing among
The moving multitude, he sees how most
Are strong and lusty in their generation,
And though their countenance to their fellows yield
Small comfort, yet the most seem in themselves
To find all that this world might ever give.
The ringing cities shine in the morning light
And in the evening glitter unafraid,
The beasts are droved to furnish their proud tables.
The deeps yield up their mystery for their need.

Over the green fields, over the silver waters
Goes the good spirit, and earth's willing plenty
Warms him to rapture, while the zeal and power
Of busy man, thinks he, is the bright flower
Of all besides; nay even the songs of heaven
Scarce seem so brave, and though death takes his toll,
The strong still flourish, and the grief's soon past.

But now the poursuivant, making swift way,
Happy as swallows in the blue calm air,
While the rich harvest glows and the hives rejoice,
Espies a wilderness where little's green,
And the land clawed as by great dragon's pounces
Yet dumb, dun, mournful lieth by itself,
With wounds ten thousand times ten thousand writhed.

Over this golgotha poising like a kestrel
He stares, he wonders -- here the very quiet
Is a vast hubbub, here the sun's uprising
Is the annihilation of night's mercy,
The fallen jaw grins, the eyes are glazed with foulness.
O Spirit, fly thy swiftest!
Pondering deep
He leaves the brown waste far away, he comes
To a white village peeping through its elms.
There he stoops down and in a coppice rests.

The twilight now bids timid hares come forth
And play like children in the woodside corn,
Hot youth flings by, and age as bold though slow,
But one there trembling comes where rests the spirit,
And stands half silent, as for very shame
To himself muttering. Yet the spirit looks
And sees his eyes as eyes set earnestly
On some one listening and of one mind with him.

Where the soul's uttered, though the words be halt,
They are a language understood in heaven,
And thus the spirit, now first listening close,
Hears not unwitting.
"Like a ghost am I,
Having no part in common day or joy,
Young, and yet older than the oldest men.
There's none to understand though some may love.
Nay, those might understand would shun to open
Their heart, but bind old memories as with chains.

Has summer come? and has she passed her noon?
How once I told myself of summer coming
When I'd amaze myself with every minute
From the first thrill of day till midnight hawks
Laughed bedlam down the hedge -- if I should live
To see those magic summers. And I live;
But now the moss upon the churchyard stone
Has felt the radiance with a joy not mine,
And summer seems a rumour in the past.

So high flamed life when death was gesturing by,
So faint burns now. A day of that gone age
Was more than all the days that now shall come.
Then friendship was, that mightier grew than love.
Why are you fallen, friend after friend? for these
Lie now lapt in their silence and the clay
Whose stubborn hatred they so often fought,
And these are scattered listless and estranged.
All climbed the summits of the immense, all learned
The secrets of the tempest and the dawn,
In Zara desert now all bleach or crawl.

But come you, friends, let necromantic thought
Be our reunion; find we our old selves
And our old haunts, half-stricken towns that dare
Keep mirth alive, old cellars and rare sleep,
Lines where glad poppies burn or pollards stalk,
And terror broods not greater than we can bear,
Sleep's double sweet, wit twice as precious there.
And there joy triumphs, from such danger snatcht,
And there we'll sit and make our sad selves merry,
Nor reckon up to-morrow and its fate;
Enjoy the franchise of wild-running nature,
Nor prophesy to-morrow's maniac battle.
Fine merry franions -------"
Tears no words can tell
Fall now; the spirit goes abroad attuned
To this wild mood, and hears it from all sides,
And musing with a dimness on his brow
The wreck of earth, the soul's worse solitude,
Returns to heaven, is stationed by the throne,
And now first sees how the bowed head reveals
Some weariness, while Time smiles to himself.





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