Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPIMENIDES, by EDITH MATILDA THOMAS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

EPIMENIDES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When from grief's long swoon we wake
Last Line: When from grief's long swoon we wake.

WHEN from grief's long swoon we wake,
Nearest things, not greatest, shake.

Epimenides, they say,
Fell asleep, one summer day,
While in Crete his flock he kept;
And for seventy years he slept,
While his flock, untended aye,
In white bones around him lay --
All, as they were charmwise bound,
Never seen, and never found.

When, at last, one set of sun,
His two-ages sleep was done,
Then the shepherds to him came,
Telling of his race and name --
How there was a legend old,
Often by their grandsires told,
Of a youth long sought and mourned,
Till to earth the mourners turned.

Epimenides looked round
On the long-unpastured ground,
Saw in place of fleeces white
Bleached bones to left and right.
Then his eyes, through seventy years
Strangers to the use of tears,
Overbrimmed, the while he said,
"All my pretty sheep -- all dead!"
And, whoever he might meet,
Only these words would repeat.

Nearest things, not greatest, shake,
When from grief's long swoon we wake.

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