BLACK CAT POEMS
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Alphonse de Lamartine
translated by Wilfrid Thorley
The sea grew silent like a seething bowl
That falls as the flame dwindles; backward led
Her waves still fuming in their wrath did roll
As seeking sleep in her unfathomed bed;
And the spent sun-star in his cloudy race
Stayed on the waves a rayless orb that sank,
Then plunged one half of his ensanguined face,
A flaming ship that the horizon drank;
Half heaven grew wan, and swooned away the wind
On the limp canvas, still and mute; the host
Of shadows fell, and under their gray blind
Both sky and water were together lost;
And in my soul that waned as the day slept
The sounds of earthly commerce no more stirred;
And something in me as in Nature wept
In grief and hope and gratitude unheard.
And on the west a sudden door flung wide
Poured floods of light that surged upon the gaze;
The empurpled sky was like a tent to hide
A hearthstone burning with unmeasured rays;
Clouds, winds, and waters to the blazing arc
Seemed all to haste as though a final doom
Should fall on all things with the falling dark,
And Nature perish in a world of gloom.
Thereto the dust of evening was fanned,
Thereto the white spray of the waters set;
And long and sad, unconsciously I scanned
The light they followed, with wide eyelids wet.
Till all was hidden; like an empty cup
My soul was even as the horizon hid;
But lo! in me a sudden thought rose up
As on the desert a lone pyramid:
O light! where goest thou? O flameless sphere!
O clouds, winds, waters, whither do you race?
Dust, foam, and night; you eyes; thou soul, speak clear!
Where is the goal to which you speed apace?
To Thee, Great All, of whom the sun's a ray,
In whom Night, Day, and the deep Spirit sink,
To whose divine impulsion all things sway,
Vast sea of Being that all life doth drink!
poems by Alphonse de Lamartine