Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PAGAN SAINT, by HARRY HIBBARD KEMP



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THE PAGAN SAINT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: From this rock-girdled hight / these twenty barren years
Last Line: And, ah, it may not be! ...
Subject(s): Dawn; Memory; Mountains; Prayer; Solitude; Sunrise; Hills; Downs (great Britain); Loneliness


FROM this rock-girdled hight
These twenty barren years
Have I beheld the sun
Drop like a golden bird
Adown the smould'ring West,
Have I beheld the stars
In their blue paths o'erhead
Resume their solemn march
Thro' concaves vast of sky—
Have watched the glowing East,
A hollow shell of fire,
Suffuse with gradual pearl
And burst to flower of day:—
And, dawn on radiant dawn,
And, eve on roseal eve,
The melody of birds
Has mounted up to me
From coverts close of green;
And fragrances of flowers,
And scents of field and wood,
Have oft assailed my sense
With mem'ries of that Time
When Pagan ways I walked,
Before the White-souled Christ
Redeemed me from the World. ...
And, pity me, O God!—
Last night, just ere the stars
Faded to ghosts of light
At the first touch of Dawn,
Methought Apollo stood
Bright with eternal youth,
And golden, as of yore,
Midmost a cloven cloud
Of oblique-billowing fleece—
"Awake! Awake!" he cried,
"Lo! where Olympus looms
Athwart the azure space
Of heaven, as of old!
Still Jove's ambrosial locks
Shake thunder thro' the world
And my immortal hand
Plucks music from the lyre;
And hamadryads, still,
And dryads of the wood,
And fountain-dwelling nymphs
Inhabit grove and flood—
But Blindness and a Night
Have fallen upon men!" ...
Ah, pity me, Lord God,
At those crag-echoed words
My penance seemed a shame
Thrust on me 'gainst my will,
And, for purpureal robes,
And rose-crowned bowls of wine,
And all of Youth's glad things
That I for Thee flung by,
My Soul yearned, hungering! ...
Ah, and it seemed that all
That I had deemed a Rock
Dropt from beneath my feet,
And, like a crumbling mist
Of fading pearl and gold,
Thy Heaven fell to naught,
And I was left with Naught! ...

Have mercy on my Soul,
For I am weak, O God,
Thou Triune God in One! ...
When fled that evil dream
And, wakening, I beheld
These twilit crags about,
I, meager-fleshed and wan,
I fain had ta'en my staff
With purpose to descend
And leave this desolate life
(Desolate but for Thee)—
To knock with palsied hand
At the shut Door of Youth,
And beg a Miracle:
That I might enter in
And live Life's Bloom again. ...
But now my rose is dust
And, ah, it may not be! ...





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