Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE VOICE, by MARY SINTON LEITCH



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THE VOICE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In realms of death shall I be sentient still
Last Line: With rest -- with peace -- in death . . . . And yet . . . And yet . . . . .
Subject(s): Immortality


In realms of death shall I be sentient still
Or feel -- without these veins to hold the blood
That leaps when spring trips lightly down the lane
That floods my pulses at the call of love --
The wonder and the beauty of the world?
Shall I go drifting down the winds of time,
A voice, a cry, a whisper in the rain,
A breath among the withered autumn leaves,
Or . . . what? -- I know not and I cannot know.
Why should I wish continuance? Is myself --
That something in me that I call myself --
Though banished from the warm, familiar flesh,
More dear to me than certainty of peace?
Safety would seem to lie in being flesh
And flesh alone. Since then these eyes that give
The lily and rose to me, the sunset sea,
These hands that -- warmly held in other hands --
Yield me assurance in a world unsure,
Must be dissolved to stain the loosening leaf
For other eyes, to make for other hands
Harvest for labour, I will be content
Myself to pass and be secure of rest.

And even in rest is immortality.
I shall forever be who once have been:
For I by word, by casual gesture, change
The course of the world as all must change them
Who live. A leaf red-mouldering on the sod
May start a conflagration of desire
For beauty in the breast of a Rembrandt:
One virgin lily by a pool may shut
An Heloise behind cold convent walls.
Thus lily or leaf that crumbles into clay
Sets an effaceless imprint upon time.
What then must be the endurance of man's dust!
I will fling laughter in the face of death
Who silences the singer and the song
While down some endless pathway of the air
His music vibrates. I will be content
With this vicarious immortality.

Yet hark! Within the essence that is I --
That has so hoped, loved, striven --, there is a voice
Crying, "I am a stronger thing than death!
"I spurn your Pagan immortalities:
It is my will to live. I . . . I will live!
Not in the faint vibrations of lost music,
Not in the hollow echoes of a song,

In some elusive trick of hand or eye
Of those as yet un-born, but as my real,
As my essential self -- eternally!"

What is this voice that cries within my breast?
I am weary; -- it were well to be content
With rest -- with peace -- in death . . . . and yet . . . and yet . . . . .





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