Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SNAPPING OF THE BOW, by JAMES DAVID CORROTHERS



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THE SNAPPING OF THE BOW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I dreamed a dream, and, in my dream, I heard
Last Line: That holds its secret still in egypt's sands.
Subject(s): Blacks; Slavery; Serfs


"The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each harrow-tooth goes;
The butterfly upon the road,
Preaches contentment to that toad."
- Kipling


I dreamed a dream, and, in my dream, I heard
One wail at midnight by a convent's walls.
And, as he wailed, he clutched the stars, and shook
The pillars of the firmament of God,
And rolled the thunders of Olympus down
On men; and they besought their holy ones
To plead with him - lest he might spoil the world.

His face was bronze; his limbs were bronze but steel;
His mane was blacker than the Steeds of Night.
And his great eyes flashed warnings from beneath
A citadel where daring thoughts abode. -
A comely youth - why needed he to weep?

Alas! upon his brow he wore the brand
Of degradation, and upon his neck
A circlet galling as a crime! - And from
The cursed thing a chain of hate e'er bound
Him where he stood. His hands were manacled;
His limbs wore thongs that cut the flesh agape,
Until, from the pure pain, he writhed and wept, -
As weeps a conquered god - the prisoner of Despair!
He flung himself upon his knees, and burst into a prayer:
"O God, and hast
Thou made me for these miseries? I feel
Myself a man - I have the spirit and
The hopes of one. O, why, then, must I strive
And fail? - No lake is clearer than my soul;
No ship is prouder; none more temptest tost.
'Tis true my brow is dark; but, in the night,
My spirit walks the stars, and lightly spurns
Its kinship to this world! - Lord, I have tried;
That burden of the failure rests with thee."
So fell he tranced.

But, on the plain there rose
A phantom of the silent sphinx - the grim,
Spell-casting thought of some deep master dead.
And lo! beside its ancient, crumbling base,
Napoleon, fresh from mighty deeds of war,
Halted his band, and spoke in tones of awe. -
All this I saw, and dreamed that yet - aye, yet! -

The race might rise that built the awful thing
That holds its secret still in Egypt's sands.




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