Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. PHILOLAUS TO DIOCLES, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. PHILOLAUS TO DIOCLES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How often at dusk, dear friend, when thou art absent
Last Line: So oft, in dreamless peace, close-linked with thee.
Subject(s): Absence; Friendship; Peace; Separation; Isolation


HOW often at dusk, dear friend, when thou art absent,
Sitting alone I wonder of what thou doest,
And dream, and wait of thee.

All the sweet noons and moons we have spent together;
All the glad interchange of laughter and love,
And thoughts, so grave, or fanciful:
What can compare with these, or what surpass them?
All the unbroken faith and steadfast reliance—nigh twenty years
twining the roots of life far down;
And not a mistrustful hour between us—or moment of anger:
What can surpass all this, or what compare?
Could riches or fame?
Or if the Thebans honor me for their law-giver,
Or thou, Diocles, in Olympic fields art victor beloved and crowned,
What are these things to that?

And still thou growest upon me, as a mountain,
Seen from another mountain-summit, rises
Clearer, more grand, more beautiful than ever;
And still within thine eyes, and ever plainer,
I see my own soul sleeping.

Say, did not Love, the Olympian blacksmith, find us,
Æons ago, in heaven,
And weld our souls together before all worlds?

II.

When thou art far, and the days go by without thee,
Strangely I suffer.
Perhaps even so in winter suffer the plants and the trees, when the Sun
withdraws his life-ray;
Thin runs the blood in my limbs, sucked out of the arteries;
The heart shrinks closed and painful—I lose command and vigor;
At times like these, methinks, I too have strayed from my body,
Afar, in pursuit of thee, my sun and my savior.

III

Thou art so beautiful to me, sweet friend,
Years bring no shadow between us;
Always I praise the very ground beneath thy feet,
That leads thee toward me,
And give my unbelieving hands free leave to hold thee,
For still to assure myself that thou art there
Is my first need.

Love, that entwined our souls before all worlds,
Binds the great orbs of heaven too in their courses,
But by no bond more lasting.

IV.

And sweeter far to suffer is it, dear one, being sometimes absent,
Than (if indeed 'twere possible) to feel the opposite pain
Of too much nearness, and love dying so
Down to mere slackness.

Now, as it is, the harp is firmly strung;
A tender tension animates the strings;
And every thought of Thee, and all the winds which blow along the world,
Wake a sweet accord underneath the din,
And harmonize life's wilderness for me.

V.

Therefore I say, stay, comrade, lover mine,
Nor wander far from me while life remains,
But let us rather, and if it may be, hand in hand,
Pass to that last strange change, therein perhaps to know each other
Nearer even than now.

VI.

Indeed, thou art so deep within my heart,
I fear not Death. And though I die, and fail,
Falling through stupors, senselessness, oblivion,
Down to the roots of being; still, thou art there.
I shall but sleep as I have slept before,
So oft, in dreamless peace, close-linked with thee.





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