Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DYING POET, by HELENE GALLAGHER MULLINS

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THE DYING POET, by            
First Line: During this hour shadows touch his eyes
Last Line: Nor beauty's voice again to teach him pain.
Subject(s): Birds; Death; Poetry & Poets; Dead, The

During this hour shadows touch his eyes,
For he has turned his back upon the sun.
Lo, now he dies, as any other dies
Who has not wandered far, as he has done,
Beyond the blood-marked roads of beasts and men,
Up to a pale field curved against the sky,
Writing of Beauty, with a golden pen,
Finding new shapes of love to deify.

Bare are his hands that once wore Beauty's rings,
Yet proud his pale kissed mouth, and sweet his hair
To which the fragrance of her touch still clings.
Weary of love, and all things frail and fair,
He lies, at last, upon an austere bed,
And though low voices praise his classic style,
And though soft fingers fall upon his head,
He does not care; he does not turn, nor smile.

'Tis safe to bring him now a budding flower,
Or lay a small soft bird upon his breast;
He shall no more slay hour after hour,
Seeking a word of magic to suggest,
Vaguely and faintly, his delight of such
Bewildering things, and not again shall be
Startled or stabbed by Beauty's sudden touch,
Nor serve her with his former gallantry.

What do you say to him, all you who come
In sombre garments? Oh, what do you say,
Since the sweet singing youth is stricken dumb,
And cannot shame you now as yesterday
He shamed you for your false and foolish words?
What could you say that he might understand,
Whose loved ones were the flowers and the birds,
Whose hands ne'er drooped beneath a human hand?

See, he is glad to die; he does not call
For music nor for wine nor anything;
From these veiled eyes no more bright glances fall,
From these still lips no rapturous murmuring.
Slowly he seeks the earth, as others seek
Grandeur and charm; and this shall be his gain;
not Beauty's touch again to mark his cheek,
Nor Beauty's voice again to teach him pain.

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