Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ODE TO THE EARTH, by GEORGE CABOT LODGE

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ODE TO THE EARTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O tireless earth! O earth of long desire!
Last Line: The purposes of pain!
Subject(s): Earth; World


O tireless earth! O earth of long desire!
Old earth whence now the gradual leaves transpire,
Earth of eternal Seasons, let me feel
The folded flower of thy returning spring
Thrill with the urge of life's divine appeal!
Grant me, O earth, the faith thy seasons bring!

Thro' silent airs, from sky to sky,
The effluent tides of darkness pour,
With foam of fire against the sunset's shore;
And now, as one by one the bird-cries die,
Singly thine ancient silences redeem
Spaces that verge a sea of sleepy sound,
And, 'stablished thro' the immobile dusk, they seem
Like song but lately ceased, while on the wound
Of daily life descends the balm of dream.


O earth across thy sentient sleep,
Like silent maidens, one by one,
Meseems thy countless days, dead daughters of the sun,
Their unforgetful journey keep.
Meseems beneath the masque of night,
Clear in thy dreams, their large, remorseful eyes
Always are overflowed with quenchless light;
While, from their cataract of golden hair,
Falls an ethereal fragrance and their shattered skies
Are swayed with elemental tides of air.
For surely when the world is fain
Of thy desire that never dies,
Thy toil of child-birth stirs again
The mighty legend of thy memories,
Till, even as when the feet of Lilith pressed
Thy fruitless sod and roused the tardy spring,
Pale in thy florid sleep, thy daughters bring
Thrills of remembrance yearning in thy breast,
And this to-night is stirred, as one by one,
Rain-robed or bright with raiment of the sun,
Like some processional of barefoot boys,
They move across thy dream and all their pain,
Their gifts, too generous, and their splendid joys
Seem like loved voices lost and heard again.


Surely as, when the firmamental airs
Grow, in a warm and lovelier noonday, sweet
With flowers thy fruitful bosom bears,
Forth from thy vistaed memories flow
Thy life's unnumbered days that tread with ghostly feet
Thy large and dreamful slumber, so
Seen in the truth of thine essential mood,
All things that were return and none can die
Save for the ends of life. God knows if I,
Tired with all the task of time,
Died at thy breast, my cold and pulseless blood
Would stir to feel the essential ichor climb
The world's wide uplands, or beside
My cheek the winds grow warm, or on my mouth the sweet
Savour of sunrise, or against my naked side
The thrust of earliest grass, the chill of dew.
Yea! even my mere mute flesh would wake anew,
O earth of graves and flowers, as thou dost take
The burden of new birth for mere life's sake!


Grant me to know thy larger love! If I
Alway must go, beneath the self-same sky,
Thro' life and death and can no more depart, --
Grant, if I wisely serve thy large commands,
That rivers of thine own rhythm drown my heart!
For now meseems my life is grown,
Vain as a shattered bowl
To hold the essential vintage of the soul.
Change me from small endeavors crazed to win
Mean ends for aims whose littleness is sin
To moods profound, effusive, all thine own;
Till, flower by flower I understand
As day by day the miracles expand!


Now spring from seaward blows, anon
The winds grow cold as one by one
They take the withering leaves, -- thro' storm and calm
Thy lips are flowing with the eternal psalm
Of' moving seas, but still beneath the masque
Of seas and seasons in their tireless task
Thy mood is silence and thy gift is grace!
Tho' endless years replenish and efface,
Thou art as one whose soul beneath the test
Of human agony and human strife,
This restless interlude of life,
Is conscious of eternal rest
In spheres whose very scope is peace!
Thou sayest that life shall never cease,
Yet now I dream that death has ceased to be
And life has ceased; Yea! Life appears to me
A bowl of Lethean wine whose margin's curve
Is burned and bitter with the eager kiss
Of myriads tortured by the thirst they serve.
While in my dreams thy natural pieties
Seem as the phases of the soul that is
But neither lives nor dies!
And when at last my visions fade to this
Level of lawn, and when thy silences
Are mightily 'stablished, as the emphatic hand
Of darkness stays the cries of sleepy birds
And turns the golden breezes blind and bland,
Then all my dreams, desires and words
Depart and leave me silent with the deep
Meanings of silence; thro' my darkened mind
Light buds, as now, thro' tides of warmer wind,
Stars blossom on the night, and life seems large as sleep.
Then idly, tenderly, my hand
Falls on thy flowers still fresh with happy rain
And wise with tears I seem to understand
The purposes of pain!

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