Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SINGING SHADOWS, by CLEMENT WOOD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SINGING SHADOWS, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: These things that star a casual day's beholding
Last Line: With only death to seek your deathless face.
Subject(s): Beauty; Shadows


These things that star a casual day's beholding --
The sight of cattle drowsing in the shade,
The chase of moon-washed waves, in endless folding,
The stars in endless, measureless parade --
These things -- earth, sea, and sky -- by us are blent
Into a harmony that lays a duty
Upon our souls to serve, till we are spent,
That oneness of all things that we call beauty.

Beauty is one and all things, at all hours:
The trembling noon, the smoky tempest's scourge,
The stir of farms, the windy dance of flowers,
The clash of angry men, the throb and surge
When the dark sea leaps to enfold a star:
Beauty is all we know and all we are.


I am a tongue for beauty. Not a day,
And not a night, but is a face of her:
The leafy surf of spring, with petal spray;
The nights when snowflakes are too stiff to stir.
She laughs in sunlit waters, and she smiles
In trembling moonlit pools that break the moon;
Her soft face shines above the herded miles
Where slums shrink from the stifling breath of noon.

Her hand is in your hand at every turning;
She slips unseen beside you in the press;
But she will break the brittle heart with yearning,
When, trembling in the glare of loneliness,
You dread to learn you are remote from worth --
And find you are her shadow on the earth.


We are the singing shadows beauty casts;
Nor shall the shadow live to see its source,
Nor her invisible sun, whose morning lasts
Long after life has spent its feeble force:
No more than waves burned silver by the moon
Shall lift to see their shining silver one,
Or her enkindling sun, whose whitest noon
Shadows some fierier and farther sun.

Trap beauty in your net, she still is flying;
Know her, she is radiantly unknown;
Slay her, she is reborn out of her dying,
To cleave those heights only her wings have flown;
Flee her, till earth ebbs to a vanishing star,
You are her shadow; she is where you are.


O fly before me. You have fled me long;
For you I left a home and built a home,
Seeking to net your glory in a song
Frailer than bubbles born and dead in foam.
I have sought you on starry mountain spaces,
Bright with the memory of your flying feet,
And deep in tortured shadows of lost places,
Which your forgotten passing had left sweet.

A fly before me, till my eyes are dim,
Too tired to pace you to your radiant west,
Where still you waken man, and beckon him
To the unending ardor of your quest --
Where you at last alone shall hold your place,
With only death to seek your deathless face.

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