Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE COLLEGE GARDEN; IN 1917, by ROBERT SEYMOUR BRIDGES

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE COLLEGE GARDEN; IN 1917, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The infinitude of life is in the heart of man
Last Line: Into the choking storage of the quenchless sea.
Alternate Author Name(s): Bridges, Robert+(2)
Subject(s): Gardens & Gardening

THE infinitude of Life is in the heart of man,
a fount surging to fill a lake that mirrors heav'n,
and now to himself he seemeth stream to be and now pool
as he acteth his impulse or stayeth brooding thereon.
There is no beauty of love or peace, no joy nor mirth
but by kindred artistry of contemplation enhanc'd
decketh his sovranty with immortalities.
Jewels of imagination hath he, purities
and sanctities whereby he dareth approach God
plenishing his temples with incense of music
in praise and lyric litanies that call on Christ:
his Destiny is one with the eternal skies: he lieth
a dream in the elemental far vistas of Truth
inhaling life to his soul as the ambient azurous air
that he draweth into his mortal body unconscious
to fire the dutiful-desperate pulse of his blood.
And yet again there is neither any evil nor mischief
sprung from teeming chaos to assault his mind, but he
will harbour it—he will be goodfellow in turn with Sin.
Hark to him how cheerily he windeth his hunting-horn
whipping-in his wolf-pack to their pasture of blood!
See his comforting mastery of Nature's forces
how he skilleth it to his own ruin, ev'n to mimic
cosmic catastrophe in her hideous destructions!
He will have surfeit of passion and revel in wrong
till like a shameless prodigal at death's door he find
his one nobility is but to suffer bravely
in the lazar-house of souls his self-betrayal.
Surely I know there is none that hath not taint at heart:
Yet drink I of heav'nly hope and faith in God's dealing
basking this summer day under the stately limes
by the immemorial beauty of this gothic college,
a place more peaceful now than even sweet peace should be
hush'd in spiritual vacancy of desolation
by sad desertion of throng'd study and gay merriment—
since all the gamesome boys are fled with their glory
light-hearted in far lands making fierce sport with Hell
and to save home from the spoiler have despoil'd their homes
leaving nought in their trace but empty expectancy
of their return, Alas! for how few shall return!
what love-names write we daily in the long roll of death!
And yet some shall return, and others with them come:
life will renew; tho' now none cometh here all day
but a pensive philosopher from his dark room
pacing the terrace, slow as his earth-burden'd thought,
and the agèd gardener with scythe wheelbarrow and broom
loitering in expert parcimony of skill and time
while on the grassy slope of the old city-rampart
I watch his idleness and hearken to the clocks
in punctual dispute clanging the quarter-hours—
dull preaching calendars ticking upon their wheels
punctilious subdivisions of infinity
and reckoning now as usual all the monstrous hours
these monstrous heartless hours that pass and yet must pass
till this mischief shall pass and England's foe be o'erthrown—
and shall be o'erthrown—' tis for this thing her dear boys die
and this at each full hour the chimes from Magdalen tow'r
proclaim with dominant gay cloze hurl'd to the sky.
Thus hour draggeth on hour, and I feel every thrill
of time's eternal stream that passeth over me
the dream-stream of God's Will that made things as they be
and me as I am, as unreluctant in the stream
I lie, like one who hath wander'd all his summer morn
among the heathery hills and hath come down at noon
in a breathless valley upon a mountain-brook
and for animal recreation of hot fatigue
hath stripp'd his body naked to lie down and taste
the play of the cool water on all his limbs and flesh
and lying in a pebbly shallow beneath the sky
supine and motionless feeleth each ripple pass
until his thought is merged in the flow of the stream
as it cometh upon him and lappeth him there
stark as a white corpse that stranded upon the stones
blocketh and for a moment delayeth the current
ere it can pass to pay its thin tribute of salt
into the choking storage of the quenchless sea.

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