Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HEARTBREAK, by HOWARD MUMFORD JONES



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HEARTBREAK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ever the loud-voiced waters, crying, calling
Last Line: And skeleton by skeleton comes death.


"To the onlie begetter of these
insuing sonnets . . . all
happinesse . . ."

I

Ever the loud-voiced waters, crying, calling,
Fill the long land, the hollow, echoing beaches --
Ever the wide-voiced water wails, beseeches,
Begs you to come where great green crests are falling.
And desolate seagulls above the loud waves' brawling
Are crying, asking for you. In sand-locked reaches
Black water shivers, uneasily feels for breaches
In walls of autumnal dunes, wind-driven and crawling.
And I hate it all, the unsatisfied, crying water,
Hate the pale beach, the foam, the flying sky,
For here you had me, loved me, you were part
Of wind and billow and wave, the sun's wild daughter
Who loved this desolate beauty as wildly as I,
And now -- O calling water! O crying heart!

II

Do you recall the summer dawn we lay
Together on the curving silver sand,
Alone and happy in a lonely land,
With all the world's wild noises fallen away?
Before us shone the blue, unslumbering bay
Rolling small sibilant pebbles up the strand,
And at the dim horizon-line a band
Of burning pearl held in its breast the day.
Dawn's cool sweet hush, disturbed by sleepy birds,
Held the wet trees beneath its brooding spell;
Far in the smoky sky a low, late moon
Crumbled to cloud and presently downward fell,
And in that hour, I think, were marriage words,
And love, that failed us, knew its highest noon.

III

Give me not silence -- give me, I implore,
Some word though love has reached this tragic end.
All is not surely over. Friend with friend,
Sitting in your old room let's talk once more
Of this and that, and seeing as of yore
The absurdities to which most women tend,
Seeing that all men either break or bend,
Bravely remake the life we had before.
Why, from this wreckage, what we may, we'll save,
Knowing that passion wanes at length, that lover
Melts into friend (or enemy) when all's over.
O let tomorrow see us rise with laughter,
All fever past, out of love's barren grave
To that pure morning we may know hereafter!

IV

I think of you to fragments of old tunes
Sung by dead poets buried long ago.
You live immortal in immortal woe,
You are the topic of their riddling runes.
And yet -- there's little solace in such boons.
Alas, they merely teach me what I know --
The wisdom of the world is lessoned so
That knowledge comes too late by many moons.
And bloody feet go out at sorrow's gate
Which, white and young, at innocence entered in.
The path is somewhat worn, my friend, since fate
Pays always the old wages unto sin. --
But where is lover ever learned to see
Himself in Romeo dead or Antony?

V

Sometimes your beauty haunts me with its grace,
Sometimes your hair, sometimes your quiet eyes,
Sometimes your echoing voice with still replies
Comes after me, and sometimes comes your face.
You go before, behind with flying pace,
You are entangled in the streets, the skies,
And in my heart forgotten hours arise
And make this mind their bitter dwelling place.
O you intolerably, unbidden come
When I have other business than regret,
And need the weary uses of my brain --
You throb along my senses like a drum
And twist my tired nerves with knives you get
From unsuspected armories of pain.

VI

It may be, past the sundown and the sea,
Past the huge dark and past the stellar cold
Where dizzily the mind no more dare hold
Its wavering journey through immensity --
It may be that some other galaxy
Shall rise from those black gulfs, faint points of gold
Like distant lights where, when we're dead and old,
The gods shall somehow pilot you and me.
And there we'll rise and run along the sun,
Dabble our wet feet in white comet-foam,
And pluck for apples those fierce planets bright;
And then, the last star gathered in, go home
Together, knowing time and change are done,
And sleep, beloved, all an endless night.

VII

I hear the sorrowful voice of beauty crying
Along the inhuman pavements which I tread:
"Far underneath, the bodies of my dead
That were immortal lovers once, are lying.
Now are they safe from all men's curious prying,
With iron towers builded on their head,
And Shape that shut them, each from other, is fled,
And flesh with flesh, they mingled in their dying."
I heard the piteous voice of beauty wailing:
"Their perfumed bodies are corrupt and rotten."
But, O beloved, is it more to be
Alive like us, and separate, and ailing,
Than, mixing clay with clay, to be forgotten
Where none shall trouble them, and no one see?

VIII

Sorrow and love and loveliness are three:
The white swan beauty quickly ends her stave;
The wild rose grief droops dying on a grave;
But love, the curlew, soonest flies to sea.
Then, staler than the outworn simile,
Comes Commonsense to dwell in hearts that gave
Allegiance to the gods they could not save,
This pagan and most mortal trinity.
For you'll not suffer more than half a year;
Love, wedded, would have proved a wilting rose;
And beauty, whose keen edges cut like pain,
Grows dull as our compliant souls attain
The self-command they prate of, and God knows
There's wisdom in success -- or so I hear.

IX

Men say that murderers must haunt their crime;
And I, young love that treacherously slew,
Came, driven back, my victim to re-view,
And found all things as in their golden prime;
Found the old room, the tranquil evening time,
Your lamp, the worn, familiar books, and you,
But from your still, forgiving kiss, I knew
Back into Eden I shall never climb.
For though we chatted in the old dear way,
At intervals came silence dark and vast
Wherein I heard the giant river Night
Roll venomously down her starless height.
The dead child, love, a corpse between us lay.
We mimed a simulacrum of the past.

X

Slow fires of Fall translate to pyramids
Of smouldering rich opulence the trees
That, flake by golden flake, drop with no breeze
Their broad leaves earthward where a brooklet thrids
The bright ravine. The August katydids
Are fled, but loud, in many strident keys
Harsh crows call out. O heart devoid of ease,
Earth is yet fair beneath morn's azure lids!
Earth is yet fair, but the fierce crows are loud --
Black mourners at September's burial;
The orient leaves are frailer than man's breath;
Letting their robes of brown and crimson fall,
Stark trees peep out, black bones above a shroud,
And skeleton by skeleton comes death.





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