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The Glance Backward

ISSUE:  Summer 1929

The dying beauty and the proud ascension!
Hark! Hark! What human story changes In the far air of spirit, gathers cloudwise And drops in rain of sound, sound purposeful,
Shapely, by the will of craft fashioned At its outpouring into forms of memory,
Ancient and long-known forms of innocence,
Music some mother-voice once crooned, when, cradled At breast, we looked up to the wing-filled heaven And saw the bearded God pass staff in hand,
Brooding, wise, paternal, friend of childhood;
Pass by the weeping mother, while she hugged us Deep to her breast?
The music fades, rises,
Thin as light, and piercing-quiet as morning,
With the retreating stars in anguish of eclipse,
Keener and fiercer as they pulse, extinguished By day, sunrise, manhood, toil and din of traffic,
And the deathward swoon of the protective bosom Leaving the hungry mouth adult and eager To noontide sustenance of dust!
Oh, music! Stream of paradisal milk, sustaining The night of time, the garden-birth of mankind,
We hunger, we thirst, we are motherless, being rivals Of God;
Prometheans, demons, something more than mortal,
Surrendering the breast for prophecy,
Burying our mother and our little selves Beneath our pride and childhood’s fallen foliage.
We have set out upon the noon of triumph,
But in our dust that banished music tortures,
Mocks our male mouths that bleed with broken words.


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