Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, 1870-71, by EDMUND WILLIAM GOSSE

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

1870-71, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: The year that henri regnault died
Last Line: The year that regnault died.

THE year that Henri Regnault died, --
The sad red blossoming year of war, --
All nations cast the lyre aside,
And gazed through curved fingers far
At horror, waste, and wide.

Not one new song from overseas
Came to us; who had ears to hear?
The kings of Europe's minstrelsies
Walked, bowed, behind the harrowing year,
Veiled, silent, ill at ease.

For us the very name of man
Grew hateful in that mist of blood;
We talked of how new life began
To exiles by the eastern flood,
Flower-girdled in Japan.

We dreamed of new delight begun
In palm-encircled Indian shoals,
Where men are coloured by the sun,
And wear out contemplative souls,
And vanish one by one.

We found no pleasure any more
In all the whirl of Western thought;
The dreams that soothed our souls before
Were burst like bubbles, and we sought
New hopes on a new shore.

The men who sang that pain was sweet
Shuddered to see the mask of death
Storm by with myriad thundering feet;
The sudden truth caught up our breath,
Our throats like pulses beat.

The songs of pale emaciate hours,
The fungus-growth of years of peace,
Withered before us like mown flowers;
We found no pleasure more in these,
When bullets fell in showers.

For men whose robes are dashed with blood,
What joy to dream of gorgeous stairs,
Stained with the torturing interlude
That soothed a Sultan's midday prayers,
In old days harsh and rude?

For men whose lips are blanched and white,
With aching wounds and torturing thirst,
What charm in canvas shot with light,
And pale with faces cleft and curst,
Past life and life's delight?

And when the war had passed, and song
Broke out amongst us once again,
As birds sing fresher notes among
The sunshot woodlands after rain,
And happier tones prolong, --

So seemed it with the lyric heart
Of human singers; fresher aims
Sprang in the wilderness of art,
Serener pathos, nobler claims
On man for his best part.

The times are changed; not Schumann now,
But Wagner is our music-man,
Whose flutes and trumpets throb and glow
With life, as when the world began
Its genial ebb and flow.

The great god Pan redeified
Comes, his old kingship to reclaim;
New hopes are spreading far and wide;
The lands were purged as with a flame,
The year that Regnault died.

Discover our poem explanations - click here!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net