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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

The God-maker, Man

NEVERMORE
Shall the shepherds of Arcady follow
Pan's moods as he lolls by the shore
Of the mere, or lies hid in the hollow;
Nevermore
Shall they start at the sound of his reed-fashioned flute;

Fallen mute
Are the strings of Apollo,
His lyre and his lute;
And the lips of the Memnons are mute
Evermore;
And the gods of the North,--are they dead or forgetful,
Our Odin and Baldur and Thor?
Are they drunk, or grown weary of worship and fretful,
Our Odin and Baldur and Thor?

And into what night have the Orient dieties strayed?
Swart gods of the Nile, in dusk splendors arrayed,
Brooding Isis and somber Osiris,
You were gone ere the fragile papyrus,
(That bragged you eternal!) decayed.

The avatars
But illumine their limited evens
And vanish like plunging stars;
They are fixed in the whirling heavens
No firmer than falling stars;
Brief lords of the changing soul, they pass
Like a breath from the face of a glass,
Or a blossom of summer blown shallop-like over
The clover
And tossed tides of grass.

Sink to silence the psalms and the paeans
The shibboleths shift, and the faiths,
And the temples that challenged the aeons
Are tenanted only by wraiths;
Swoon to silence the cymbals and psalters,
The worships grow senseless and strange,

And the mockers ask, "Where be thy altars?"
Crying, "Nothing is changeless--but Change!"

Yes, nothing seems changeless, but Change.
And yet, through the creed-wrecking years,
One story for ever appears;
The tale of a City Supernal--
The whisper of Something eternal--
A passion, a hope, and a vision
That peoples the silence with Powers;
A fable of meadows Elysian
Where Time enters not with his Hours;--
Manifold are the tale's variations,
Race and clime ever tinting the dreams,
Yet its essence, through endless mutations,
Immutable gleams.

Deathless, though godheads be dying,
Surviving the creeds that expire,
Illogical, reason-defying,
Lives that passionate, primal desire;
Insistent, persistent, forever
Man cries to the silences, Never

Shall Death reign the lord of the soul,
Shall the dust be the ultimate goal--
I will storm the black bastions of Night!
I will tread where my vision has trod,
I will set in the darkness a light,
In the vastness, a god!"

As the forehead of Man grows broader, so do his creeds;
And his gods they are shaped in his image, and mirror his needs;
And he clothes them with thunders and beauty, he clothes them with music and fire;
Seeing not, as he bows by their altars, that he worships his own desire;
And mixed with his trust there is terror, and mixed with his madness is ruth,
And every man grovels in error, yet every man glimpses a truth.

For all of the creeds are false, and all of the creeds are true;
And low at the shrines where my brothers bow, there will I bow, too;

For no form of a god, and no fashion
Man has made in his desperate passion
But is worthy some worship of mine;--
Not too hot with a gross belief,
Nor yet too cold with pride,
I will bow me down where my brothers bow,
Humble--but open-eyed!

Donald Robert Perry Marquis (18781937)
 

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