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To the Romantic Traditionists


ISSUE:  Spring 1935

I have looked at them long,
My eyes blur; sourceless light
Keeps them forever young
Before our ageing sight.

You see them too, strict forms
Of will, the secret dignity
Of our dissolute storms;
They grow too bright to be.

What were they like? What mark
To signify their charm?
They never saw the dark;
Rigid they never knew alarm.

Do not the scene rehearse!
The perfect eyes enjoin
A contemptuous verse;
We speak the crabbed line.

Immaculate race! to yield
Us final knowledge set
In a cold frieze, a field
Of war but no blood let.

Are they quite willing,
Do they ask to pose
Naked and simple, chilling
The very wind’s nose?

They ask us how to live;
We answer: Again try
Being the drops we sieve!
What death it is to die!

Therefore because they nod
Being too full of us
I look at the dirty sod
Where it is perilous

Yawning all the same
As if we knew them not
And history had no name—
No need to name the spot!

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