Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAST VOYAGE, by WILLIAM A. BYRNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE LAST VOYAGE, by            
First Line: I fled between the clanging gates and stood
Last Line: Crossing the last, long wave.
Alternate Author Name(s): Dara, William
Subject(s): Death

I FLED between the clanging gates and stood
Alone amid the chestnut's bee-lulled sleep,
Tasting the pangless quiet as a food,
For I had suffered deep.

It was too late to sing or laugh again.
All, all was changed, and I had probed too far
In nightlong meditations stabbed with pain,
To know what pleasures are.

Away I went among the wistful leaves
Sick with the brooding pain of blossoming,
Through by-ways where the brick-red spider weaves,
Through lanes of whispering.

Heavy with love of all forgetfulness
Among the unknown flowers I knelt and prayed:
'Make me like these or just a little less.'
That was the prayer I said.

I lifted up dead flowers with all my hands,
The unknown wild things, till their dying scent
Spread like a white breath o'er the winterlands,
And hid me as I went.

So drift my feet where man has reaped in vain,
Where sleep is dead, thought droops its wounded wings,
A shipwreck on the sleepless sea of pain
Among the shipwrecked things.

But ever to those waves I bend mine eyes,
Which Christ has crossed with lonely, lonely feet.
And hear the uncomplaining waters rise
With voices, oh, how sweet!

Sweet, sweeter far than all the coreless joys
Youth plucks amid the branches of the mind,
Or fame that dies within its own sweet noise,
Leaving no sweet behind.

So may I pass forgotten and unknown
O'er these unsleeping waters to the grave,
And taste the lonely bliss of pain alone
Crossing the last, long wave.

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