Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PROTEUS, by ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN

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PROTEUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Into the living elements of things
Last Line: A skeleton, that kneels before a throne!
Alternate Author Name(s): Maitland, Thomas
Subject(s): Mythology

INTO the living elements of things
I, Proteus, mingle, seeking strange disguise;
I track the Sun-god on an eagle's wings,
Or look at horror thro' a murderer's eyes,
In shape of horned beasts my shadow glides
Among broad-leaved flow'rs that blow 'neath Afric tides.

A wind of ancient prophecy swept down,
And wither'd up my glory -- where I lay
On Paris' bosom, in the Trojan town;
Troy vanish'd, and I wander'd far away, --
Till, lying on a virgin's breast I gazed
Thro' infant eyes, and saw, as in a dream,
The great god Pan, whom I had raised and praised,
Float, huge, unsinew'd, down a mighty stream,
With leaves and lilies heap'd about his head,
And a weird music hemming him around,
While, dropping from his nerveless fingers dead,
A brazen sceptre plung'd with hollow sound;
A trackless ocean, wrinkling far away,
Open'd its darkness for the unking'd day.

Moreover, as he floateth on, at rest,
With lips that flutter'd still and seem'd to speak,
An eagle, swooping down upon his breast,
Pick'd his blank eyeballs out with golden beak.

Thro' wondrous change on change --
Haunted for ever by a hollow tune
Made ere the birth of Sun, or Stars, or Moon --
I, Proteus, range.

Nay, evermore I grow
Darker, with deeper pow'r to see and know: --
For in the end, I, Proteus, shall cast
All wondrous shapes aside but one alone,
And stand (while round about me in the Vast,
The Earth, Sun, Stars, and Moon, burn out at last) --
A Skeleton, that kneels before a Throne!

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