Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PHAEDRA REMEMBERS CRETE, by HILDA DOOLITTLE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

PHAEDRA REMEMBERS CRETE, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Think, o my soul
Last Line: Waste and drift of the cold rain.
Alternate Author Name(s): H. D.; Aldington, Richard, Mrs.
Subject(s): Bible; Crete

Think, O my soul,
of the red sand of Crete;
think of the earth, the heat
burnt fissure like the great backs of the temple serpents;
think of the world you knew;
as the tide crept, the land
burned with a lizard-blue
where the dark sea met the sand.

Think, O my soul --
what power has struck you blind --
is there no desert root, no forest-berry,
pine-pitch or knot of fir
known that can help the soul
caught in a force, a power,
passionless, not its own?

So I scatter, so implore
Gods of Crete, summoned before
with slighter craft;
ah, hear my prayer:
Grant to my soul
the body that it wore,
trained to your thought,
that kept and held your power,
as the petal of black power
the opiate of the flower.

For art undreamt in Crete,
strange art and dire,
in counter-charm prevents my charm,
limits my power:
pine-cones I heap
grant answer to my prayer.

No more, my soul --
as the black cup, sullen and dark with fire,
burns till beside it, noon's bright heat
is withered, filled with dust,
and into that noon-heat
grown drab and stale,
is sudden sound of thunder and swift rain,
till the scarlet flower is wrecked
in the slash of the white hail.

The poppy that my soul was,
formed to bind all mortals,
made to strike and gather hearts
like flame upon an altar,
fades and shrinks, a red leaf --
waste and drift of the cold rain.

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