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Poems

Sunset Hails a Rising

13 December 2014

9:00 AM

13 December 2014

9:00 AM

O lente, lente currite noctis equi!
— Marlowe, after Ovid.
 
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée.
—Valéry.
 
Dying by inches, I can hear the sound
Of all the fine words for the flow of things
The poets and philosophers have used
To mark the path into the killing ground.
Perhaps their one aim was to give words wings,
Or even just to keep themselves amused,
With no thought that they might not be around
To see the rising sun:
But still they found a measure for our plight
As we prepare to leave the world of men.
Run slowly, slowly, horses of the night.
The sea, the sea, always begun again.
 
In English of due tact, the great lines gain
More than they lose. The grandeur that they keep
From being born in other tongues than ours
Suggests we will have time to taste the rain
As we are drawn into the dreamless sleep
That lasts so long. No supernatural powers
Need be invoked by us to help explain
How we will see the world
Dissolve into the mutability
That feeds the future with our fading past:
The sea, the always self-renewing sea.
The horses of the night that run so fast.


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