Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WORLD PLAY, by RICHARD EUGENE BURTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WORLD PLAY, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: The entrance-price you willy-nilly pay
Last Line: Are shaken by its moods, -- mirth, anguish, mystery.
Subject(s): Art & Artists; Comedy; Earth; Plays & Playwrights ; Tragedy; World; Dramatists

THE entrance-price you willy-nilly pay,
Sit with your kind, take pleasure, if you may,
Or puzzle at the meaning of the play.


The humors of the time, the painted show
Of character, the Attic salt of wit;
Now, laughter lifts it high, now, tender woe
For a pale moment o'er the stage must flit,
To make the main plot merrier; maids and men
Teach life is sweet and love may come again.


See how the swashbucklers swagger!
Hark to the villain's dark cry!
Much is a-doing and many are ruing.
Innocents, destined to die,
Haply, with thrust of a dagger.
Evil frustrate and virtue tried and true,
Romance, adventure, sleight, and derring-do.
The earth's wide passions served up hot for you!


See the buffoon's fat cheeks ballooning out!
Thwack! the lath sword descends, guffaws are rife
'Midst gallery gods, with many a boorish shout
Of approbation. Yet, 'tis part of life,
And honest too, -- the grammarless, crude heart
Of one's own kinsmen, and this stir-about
Is wholesome, though it lack the soul of art.


Slow evolution to a fateful close;
Deepest of dramas knocking at our soul;
Glints of the gay, but gloom that spreads and grows
Toward some sardonic end, the gruesome goal
Of all the light, the motion, and the glee
Pranked out high-heartedly.
Behind man's quest and woman's sacrifice,
Bravery and risk and lure of ardent eyes,
Quieting the stir,
Mingling mold-odors with love's sweetest myrrh,
For ever looms and glooms the sepulcher!


Great Watcher of the whole, the motley shift
Of play and counterplot, sole Critic, who
Must understand, because Creator too;
Prompter and playwright both: the curtains lift
And fall, while joy and sorrow interweave;
We know full well what time to smile or grieve,
No more; the ultimate meaning's shut from view.
The world-play act by act moves on, and we
Are shaken by its moods, -- mirth, anguish, mystery.

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