Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lines Composed After Having Read "Choric Song of the Lotus Eaters" For the Hundredth Time

Have had Ulysses on the brain lately. And yeah, I know I need a better title.

Now is surveyed the aggregate of all the earth,
And picked its pleasures,
Now we have tried the tune of all the sounding spheres,
And mined their measures,
Now that the grandeur of all eye-delighting sights
Has passed before us,
And to no novel spleandour from spent hopefulness
Can we restore us,
Why tread we still with withered feet our foot-tracks old,
In slowing pace,
Why with unyouthful eyes search for unvesseled sea,
Nor keep our place,
While every wave has weathered us, borne us to shores
That we have known,
To farthest latitude familiar, long familiar,
Every one?
Nought us awaits; no doubt that we had left a part
Of us with all;
And little better here to idle, earless of
The tempest's call.
Almost this doldrum goads our longing, hope in spite
Of likely end,
That further passage yielded nothing, save the sweat
And blood we spend-
But here to wait-no life in waiting, only promised
Ease from toil,
Better die for brighter guerdon, than to root
In this crude soil.
Or would it be to prove earth's spring of newness dry,
To bend the oar,
And cleave the wave, to seek a grave no worse than that
Which lies before
Us here unlabouring- Ah, but it ignoble were
To populate
This narrow isle, needless of our wisdom's gains,
To shrink from fate
Dry men and deedless, when perhaps there yet remains
Realm unespied-
Some virgin isle, untried delight of distant seas;
To more abide
Within this place, while sets horizonward the breeze-
Think on our late
Accomplished works- to grossly mar their merits bold
It were to wait.
Think you again on first the cause, what cost of pain,
What trying of fate!
How many friends much mourned have we lost, at what
Expense of tears,
Whose salt is blent amidst the sounding baths, that cured
Us of our fears,
Where piled to our mastpoints breakers dashed upon
Our groaning decks,
In strait and gulley, sinister with tearing rocks
And vessels' wrecks;
A perilled course, a path unkind, through fitful storm
'Cross faithless sea;
Yet eliminate from each, fast grew we slothful,
Listless, we,
In impious unmotion idling, by no god's
Divine decree,
Only by a lapse of will, a lazing valour
Gathering rust,
While the tide-pulse pounding beckons; let it cleanse
Our mortal dust.
-Thomas Banks-


Ibid said...

you could eat the dust from the isle to lend your spirit idolence. I most conviently provided you some, if you recall.

Thomas Banks said...

Ah, Botkin-

If "I" in this poem were I, that would be one solution. I'll have to try harder in the future to introduce more practical sense into my poems. If I took the writing more seriously, I probably would.