Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPISTOLA AD DAKYNS, by THOMAS EDWARD BROWN



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EPISTOLA AD DAKYNS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dakyns, when I am dead
Last Line: Three places, dakyns.
Alternate Author Name(s): Brown, T. E.
Subject(s): Avon (River), England; Death; Rivers; Dead, The


DAKYNS, when I am dead,
Three places must by you be visited,
Three places excellent,
Where you may ponder what I meant,
And then pass on --
Three places you must visit when I'm gone.
Yes, meant, not did, old friend!
For neither you nor I shall see the end,
And do the thing we wanted:
Natheless three places will be haunted
By what of me
The earth and air
Shall spare,
And fire and sea
Let be --
Three places only,
Three places, Dakyns

I

The first is by the Avon's side,
Where tall rocks flank the winding tide.
There come when morning's virgin kiss
Awakes from dreams the clematis,
And every thorn and briar is set
As with a diamond coronet --
There come, and pause upon the edge,
And I will lean in every ledge,
And melt in grays, and flash in whites,
And linger in a thousand lights;
And yield in bays, and urge in capes,
And fill the old familiar shapes;
And yearn in curves, and strain to meet
The pensive pressure of your feet
And you shall feel an inner sense,
A being kindred and intense;
And you shall feel a strict control,
A something drawing at your soul,
A going out, a life suspended,
A spirit with a spirit blended.
And you shall start as from a dream,
While I, withdrawing down the stream,
Drift vaporous to the ancient sea,
A wraith, a film, a memory --
Three places, Dakyns.

II

The next is where a hundred fells
Stand round the Lake like sentinels,
Where Derwent, like a sleeping beauty,
Girdled with that watchful duty,
At Skiddaw's foot securely lies,
And gives her bosom to the skies.
O, come! and I will bid the moon
All subtle harmonies attune
That live in shadows and in heights,
A mystic chorus of delights.
O, come where many an island bevels
Its strand to meet the golden levels!
O, lay your heart upon each line,
So diamond-cut and crystalline,
That seams the marble of the mere,
And smoothes all trouble, calms all fear,
With that sweet natural straightness, free
From effort or inconstancy.
O, draw your thought with all its passion
Along the melancholy fashion
Of forms accentuate with the beat
Of the great Master's rhythmic feet.
But when upon the finest verge
The sense no further flight can urge,
When the full orb of contemplation
Is stretched, a nameless tribulation
Shall sway the whole, a silent stress
Borne in upon that loveliness;
A burden as of human ills,
A human trouble in the hills;
A quickening pulse in earth and sky,
And you shall know that it is I --
Three places, Dakyns.

III

The next is where God keeps for me
A little island in the sea,
A body for my needs, that so
I may not all unclothed go,
A vital instrument whereby
I still may commune with the sky,
When death has loosed the plaited strands,
And left me feeling for the lands.
Even now between its simple poles
It has the soul of all my souls.
But then -- whatever I have been,
Whatever felt, whatever seen,
Whatever guessed, or understood,
The tones of right, the tints of good,
The loves, the hates, the hopes, the fears,
The gathered strength of all my years --
All that my life has in me wrought
Of complex essence shall be brought
And wedded to those primal forms
That have their scope in calms and storms,
Attuned to the swells and falls
Of Nature's holy intervals.
And, old coeval use surviving,
No need shall be for any striving,
No need from point to point to press,
And swell the growing consciousness,
But in a moment I shall sit
Sphered in the very heart of it.
And every hill from me shall shoot,
And spread as from a central root,
And every crag and every spur
To me its attitude refer;
And I shall be the living heart,
And I shall live in every part,
With elemental cares engrossed,
And all the passion of the coast.
Come then, true Dakyns, be the test
Most meet to make me manifest!
Come, and immediate recognise
To all your moods the dumb replies.
Or stretch across a kindly void
The golden life-chords unalloyed
With thought, and instant they shall wake
The music they were made to make.
Thus shall you grow into a sense
Of islandhood, not taking thence
Some pretty surfaces and angles,
Tricking your soul, as with fine spangles
A savage studs his wampum belt,
But patient till the whole is felt,
And you become incorporate
Into an undivided state.
Then shall your body be as dead;
And you shall take to you instead
The system of the natural powers,
The heath that blooms, the cloud that lowers,
The antithesis of things that bide,
The cliff, the beach, the rock, the tide --
The lordly things, whose generous feud
Is but a fixed vicissitude.
Wherefore, O Maughold, if he come,
If Dakyns come,
Let not a voice be dumb
In any cave;
Fling up the wave
In wreaths of giddy spray;
O'er all the bay
Flame out in gorse around the "kern,"
And let his heart within him burn,
Until he gains the slope
Where, in the "sure and certain hope,"
Sleep the long rows:
Then let him quench the fiery gleams
In Death's gray shadow of repose,
As one who dreams
He knows not what, and yet he knows
I have her there
That was a bud so rare.
But, Bradda, if he come to you,
I charge you to be true!
Sit not all sullen by the sea,
But show that you are conscious it is he.
It is no vulgar tread
That bends the heath:
Broad be the heavens spread
Above, the sea beneath
Blue with that blue!
And let the whispering airs
Move in the ferns. By those strong prayers
Which rent my heart that day as lightning rends a cloud,
And rips it till it glares
To open view: by all the vows I vowed,
I charge you, and I charge you by the tears
And by the passion that I took
From you, and flung them to the vale,
And had the ultimate vision, do not fail!
Three places only --
Three places, Dakyns.





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