Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A LATTER-DAY SAINT, by FREDERICK GODDARD TUCKERMAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A LATTER-DAY SAINT, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: A gray old man, with a descending beard
Last Line: Giving the law, like zeno or zamolxis.
Subject(s): Prophecy & Prophets; Insanity; Beards

A gray old man, with a descending beard
Rugged and hoar, and a still massive face,
Met daily in the way: mall, market place,
Byway, and thoroughfare his steps have heard
At night and noon: the voice, the utterance slow,
And downward gesture like a blacksmith's blow,
Regardless ear, and eye that would not see,
Or saw as if it saw collectively,--
Who does not call to mind? We thought of all,
Resembling him to each one,--Plato, Paul,
Or him who round besieged Jerusalem
Fled, shrieking woe!--woe to himself and them,
Until the catapult dashed out his life:
Here, on this slab, above the tear and strife.
He stood and saw the great world fume and foam on,
As on a dial-plate, himself the gnomon;
Or, like old Time, he leaned on his scythe-snath,
Waiting the harvest of the day of wrath,
Now reaping-ripe: anon, with word and blow,
He thunders judgment to the throngs below:
The end of things he prophesies and paints,
And of the rest remaining for God's saints;
To one conclusion all his reasons run,
And this he sees, taking his hearers on
From point to point, though still discursively
The addle-eggs about his temples fly.
Again he wanders on, you wonder where,
And follow pityingly, but miss him there;
Forgetful soon, you join the stream and stress
Of the great Street; when to yon Porch superb,
Behold, the crowd runs, blackening flag and curb,
As to their Stoa the Athenians ran,
Or Rome to hear her Statius: you rush on;
And, in the middle of the jeering press,
He, smeared with mud and yellow yolks is,
Giving the law, like Zeno or Zamolxis.

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