Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DELPHIAN CHILD, by GEORGE EDWARD WOODBERRY



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THE DELPHIAN CHILD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: High over castaly, on delphi's steep
Last Line: "this delphian child hath brought me nearest god.'"
Subject(s): Delphi; Orphans; Castri; Foundlings


HIGH over Castaly, on Delphi's steep,
A cabin stands where loops the mountain way,
A ruin, girdled by the azure deep,
And o'er its rude stones giant crags hold sway.

Fain would I believe that He who for that home
Found humble room in such majestic air,
Marked, too, my path upon the pale sea's foam,
Foreknew my need and drew my footsteps there.

Two children stood before the dark low door,
A six-year boy holding an infant's hand;
The single garment that his bare form wore
Fluttered and clung at the light wind's command.

Hunger made delicate his face and limbs;
Eyes violet-pale that only knew to stare;
Ah, did such boyhood lips pour Delphic hymns?
And did Apollo wear such golden hair?

Father and mother gone, and they left lone
Night-long and through the longer day -- no food;
Facing the gray magnificence of stone,
Where no man came, the unconscious suppliants stood.

They looked for no relief, they asked no boon,
But timidly upon the stranger gazed;
Remote down western skies, and far from noon,
The parting lord of light divinely blazed.

Poor children of the god-deserted hill,
What bond with me should to this boy be known?
Yet when I came again their wants to fill,
His tender fingers never left my own.

Sweetly he took the orange and the bread;
And o'er my hand the little prince of grace
Bowed beautiful that living golden head, --
It was not joy whose light was in his face.

Still closer bent that glory o'er my hand,
The infant majesty of life child-borne;
Then, shuddering from the far Judean land,
I felt the fibres of the whole earth mourn

Beneath my flesh, while warmly wandered there
From that child-mouth the breath angelical;
And as through palpitant and fire-flecked air
Upon Christ's hand I saw his kisses fall.

"World-pain!" I sighed; "how is my heart a pool
Of sorrow, brimming tears at each light touch!
Oh, in life's tragedy play not the fool;
Have patience! thou has suffered overmuch.

"Not in the globe of nature hast thou found
The Hider of Himself in things that be;
Not in the march of progress, world-renowned,
The Providence whose breath is history.

"If ever, only in some random hour
The miracle of flashing soul on soul
Shows pouring in thyself the secret power
That oft in simple deeds doth purest roll.

"Oh, of the Delphian not unbeloved,
With race and lore dowered deep, the son of time,
Save in thy soul how far from him removed,
This child, o'er whom Parnassus aye doth climb, --

"Now going hence from great Apollo's hill
And slopes of holiness by old faith trod,
Own humbly while he holds thy fingers still,
'This Delphian child hath brought me nearest God.'"





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