Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BALLAD OF THE DOUBLE SOUL, by JAMES BRANCH CABELL



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BALLAD OF THE DOUBLE SOUL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In the beginning the gods made man
Last Line: Of the noontide sun.
Subject(s): Men


"Les Dieux, qui trop aiment ses faceties cruelles"
PAUL VERVILLE.

In the beginning the Gods made man, and fashioned the
sky and the sea,
And the earth's fair face for man's dwelling-place, and
this was the Gods' decree: --

"Lo, We have given to man five wits: he discerneth folly
and sin;
He is swift to deride all the world outside, and blind to
the world within:

"So that man may make sport and amuse Us, in battling
for phrases or pelf,
Now that each may know what forebodeth woe to his
neighbor, and not to himself."

Yet some have the Gods forgotten, -- or is it that subtler
mirth
The Gods extort of a certain sort of folk that cumber
the earth?

For this is the song of the double-soul, distortedly two
in one, --
Of the wearied eyes that still behold the fruit ere the seed
be sown,
And derive affright for the nearing night from the light
of the noontide sun.

For one that with hope in the morning set forth, and
knew never a fear,
They have linked with another whom omens bother; and
he whispers in one's ear.

And one is fain to be climbing where only angels have
trod,
But is fettered and tied to another's side who fears that
it might look odd.

And one would worship a woman whom all perfections
dower,
But the other smiles at transparent wiles; and he quotes
from Schopenhauer.

Thus two by two we wrangle and blunder about the
earth,
And that body we share we may not spare; but the Gods
have need of mirth.

So this is the song of the double-soul, distortedly two
in one, --
Of the wearied eyes that still behold the fruit ere the seed
be sown,
And derive affright for the nearing night from the light
of the noontide sun.





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