Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BITTER SERENADE, by HERBERT TRENCH



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BITTER SERENADE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fate damned you young. Death young would now frustrate you
Last Line: Enough; you let it die.


Fate damned you young. Death young would now frustrate you.
I have but lived--as alchemists for gold--
In my mad pity's flame to re-create you,
Heavenly one, waning, cold!

Dark planet, to your sleepless desolations
Whereto no ray serene hath ever gone
Life might have come with my poor invocations;
You might have loved, and shone!

The lanterns and the gondolas have vanished,
Gone the uproar and merry masquerade,
From the lagoons the burning loves are banished,
All your canal is shade.

Magnolia-bloom is here my only candle,
White petals wash and break along the wall,
While this poor lute, the lute with the scorched handle,
Is here to tell you all.

Do you remember--but what soul remembers?--
I carved it from a log of quaintest tone,
Snatched half-consumed out of a great hearth's embers;
The great hearth was your own.

By God! to the chords wherewith you then endowed us--
Something in you gave frame and strings a voice--
Now you must listen in the hours allowed us;
Listen, you have no choice! . . .

The very stars grow dread with tense fore-feeling
Of dawn; the bell-towers darken in the sky
As they would groan before they strike, revealing--
New day to such as I!

There comes a day too merciless in clearness,
Worn to the bone the stubborn must give o'er,
There comes a day when to endure in nearness
Can be endured no more!

A man can take the buffets of the tourney,
But there's a hurt, lady, beyond belief:
A grief the sun finds not upon his journey
Marked on the map of grief . . .

Was I not bred of the same clay and vapour
And lightning of the universe as you?
Had I the self-same God to be my shaper
Or cracks the world in two?

It cannot be, though I have nought of merit,
That man may hold so dear, and with such pain
Enfold with all the tendrils of the spirit,
Yet not be loved again.

It cannot be that such intensest yearning,
Such fierce and incommensurable care
Starred on your face, as through a crystal burning,
Is wasted on the air

It cannot be I gave my soul, unfolding
To you its very inmost, like a child
Utterly giving faith (no jot withholding),
By you to be beguiled.

No. In rich Venice riotous and human,
That shrinks for me to sandbanks and a sky,
Love such as that I bear you must be common.
Enough; you let it die.





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