Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A GREAT GULPH, by LEWIS MORRIS (1833-1907)



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A GREAT GULPH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: If any tender sire
Last Line: Finds but a world estranged, and lives and dies alone!


IF any tender sire
Who sits girt round by loving faces
And happy childhood's thousand graces,
Through sudden crash or fire
Should 'scape from this poor life to some mysterious air,
And, dwelling solitary there,
Feel his unfilled and yearning father's heart
Pierced through by some intolerable smart;
And, sickening for the dear lost lives again,
Through his o'ermastering pain
Should break the awful bonds the Eternal sets between
That which lives Here, and There, the Seen and the Unseen;

And having gained once more
This little Earth, should reach the scarce-left place
Which greets him with unchanged familiar face --
The well-remembered door,
The rose he watered blooming yet,
Naught to remember or forget,
No change in all the world except in him,
Nor there save in some sense already dim
Before the unaltered past, so that he seem
A mortal spirit still, and what was since, a dream;

And in the well-known room
Finds all the blithe remembered faces
Grown sad and blurred by recent traces
Of a new sorrow and gloom,
And when his soul to comfort them is fain
Mourns his voice mute, his form unknown, unseen,
And thinks with irrepressible pain
Of all the happy days which late have been,
And feels his new life's inmost chambers stirred
If only of his own, he might be seen or heard;

Then if, at length,
The father's yearning and o'erburdened soul
Burst into shape and voice which scorn control
Of its despairing strength, --
Ah Heaven! ah pity for the present dread
Which rising, strikes the old affection dead!
Ah, better were it far than this thing to remain,
Voiceless, unseen, unloved, for ever and in pain!

So when a finer mind,
Knowing its old self swept by some weird change
And the old thought deceased, or else grown strange,
Turns to those left behind,
With passionate stress and mighty yearning stirred, --
It strives to stand revealed in shape and word
In vain; or by strong travail visible grown,
Finds but a world estranged, and lives and dies alone!





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