Ye boundless vaults of heaven without an end,
__Thy silvery fields of azure stars unfold
Above the earth, and verdurous spruces bend
__Toward the western halls of mellow gold;
There, through their branches, amber rays illume
__The resting place of an old gothic tower
____That once stood firmly rooted ‘gainst the gale
__In distant, ancient times; now in the bower,
____The firs and pines enshroud its walls: the vale
Now makes this grove a silent, desolate tomb.

‘Twas in some forlorn time when knights assailed
__High-wallèd battlements of massy stone
That this cathedral, in its prime, prevailed,
__Was not entombed with verdure overgrown;
Those old, forgotten times — where have they sped?
__Those knights, with mail bright-gleaming in the sun,
____Their ivory coursers storming o’er the field
__‘Midst fanfares of the horns, would proudly run
____Toward a certain death, would never yield
A single step, from battle never fled.

These ancient times are lost, remembered not,
__And so that old cathedral, once so grand,
Sits in the vale entombed within that spot
__Of darkened, doleful spruce; across the land,
The twilight’s glow descends in auburn beams
__Which cast a rosy color o’er the face
____Of that worn structure: there, the gloaming light
__In sanguine tones ignites the stone with grace,
____And though these colors quickly fade, the night
Makes increase with the moon’s ethereal streams.

But hark! There floats a sound within these walls,
__A scintillating tone that softly creeps
Throughout the vale, and echoes through the halls
__Of that high-vaulted nave; the moonlight seeps
In through the clerestory, and soon the rose
__Is filled with bright, celestial beams: the rays
____Increase in sheen, and their intensity
__Grows purer than the sun in watery bays
____Upon the noon. That airy melody
Now fills the aisles, and upwards swiftly flows.

Oh, how I knew these tones so well in times
__Long past — they were the haunting sounds which swept
My soul unto those gleaming heights, where rhymes
__Are not obscured by mortal taint; I wept
With gracious joy when on those heights I flew
__In peace, and heard the singing of those spheres
____Magnificent in all their splendour. There,
__I felt the warmth and Love Divine which steers
____The heart to contemplate that vision fair,
That image whom through ecstasy I knew.

Now heaven breathes! Across the altar pours
__A purest light, a light of whitest sheen
Not glimpsed on earth since ancient times; light soars
__Up to the highest peaks: I have not seen
Such glory e’er! O purest bliss of Art,
__Thy calls now bid me fly. Awakening force!
____Speak now the answer of thy mysteries!
__The heart can toil no more, must know the source
____Of all high universal light — aye, seize
The flaming soul, and from the earth depart!

She shines! That vision of my dreams returns!
__O sacred one, O source of man’s relief,
Direct my soul to thine — how much it yearns
__To be within thy sweet embrace! All grief
Now dissipates, for in thy radiant eyes
__I see that heavenly land where light doth win,
____Where thrives the eternal spirit of all life.
__My soul is set aflame, and deep within
____My aching breast, I feel Love’s tide surge rife
With Joy — all sense is drowned as I arise.

At last, my Love! My high, eternal star!
__I find your sweet embrace again, and though
I wandered from your path, your Love afar
__Hath kissed my burning soul, and zephyrs blow
My erring spirit toward that land I miss
__On cool and tranquil nights; here, high above
____The plains, the seas, and sky, no more I roam
__‘Low melancholy’s shade: Immortal Love,
____I have returned at last — that distant home
Is here within Love’s high empyreal Bliss.

 

William Krusch is a first-year English major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; he hails from Greensboro, North Carolina.

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5 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Thank you William – your line “where rhymes/ Are not obscured by mortal taint” perfectly expresses the poet’s perennial problem!

    Reply
  2. Amy Foreman

    William, you unapologetic Romantic–this lofty verse is the sort of fare that I imagine Wordsworth (with his similar””Ode: Intimations of Immortality”), would have loved reading! Thanks for bringing it to the SCP in the twenty-first century!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      William,

      Although I commend your lofty aspirations, I think you have fallen far short of the mark. Within the first four lines you have already breached meter and wrenched standard grammar with unconnected dependent clauses. This kind of poem is one of the reasons that formal poetry has fallen out of favor in contemporary times, and as you now witness, it is out of favor with advocates of New Formalism.

      Reply
      • William Krusch

        Mr. Anderson,

        I will concede you your dependent clauses, though I do not think that the error incites any semantic quandary – perhaps I should have been taught proper grammar back at the rural, boondocks elementary school I attended years ago. I make every effort to write grammatically correct English (and I would say that if you assail me with committing continuous dependent clauses, I must rebut by saying that at least it is a lesser crime than any of the entirely nonsensical grammatical errors committed by the majority of today’s poets). Despite any grammatical flaws, I will unwaveringly defend the meter. Perhaps it is from reading too much Milton and Keats, or perhaps it is from living in the southeastern United States (not that I have a particularly distinct southern accent, but I am aware that individuals tend to be unaware of their own dialectic particulars), I scan “heaven” as monosyllabic (perhaps “heav’n” would have been clearer), “verdurous” and “silvery” as disyllabic (trochaic in accent), and “toward” as disyllabic (iambic). Those are the only possible words where I could fathom the accent and number of syllables being misconstrued. I will stand by my vernacular.

        Perhaps I should spend less time studying Dante and more time studying the ribaldry over at The Penn. I am no puritan, but I fail to see how such verse is considered more masterful. Perhaps the work over at The Penn is merely a playground for The Lion’s club, and I am not privy to the masterworks published in the most elusive Trinacria. What the New Formalists desire from poetry is irrelevant to me, for I think formalism is by no means the hallmark of true poetic craftsmanship. Any poet who actually cares about the ideals he or she strives for and not the tinkling bells of the formal structure knows that form arises naturally from beautiful and sublime content. Anyone can pen a sonnet or a villanelle just by looking at the formal structures, but it takes genius to let the form arise as a natural result of the verse itself. Schumann did not sit down to write the Op. 17 Fantasy with sonata form in mind; beautiful form is a consequence of beautiful verse, and the failure to realize that will results only in mediocre, self-serving logorrhea.

        I want to thank Mr. Mantyk and his staff for maintaining this site; although I may not agree with the sentiments or values of every poem presented here, I am glad there exists a place where poets can have their works published and not worry about dying in obscurity. Better to be read by a few and denounced by most than to die unread.

        As Shelley proclaimed to Byron, “Time will reverse the judgment of the vulgar,” or, in keeping with the spirit of my incomprehensible vernacular, as they say in Bavaria, “Schau ma moi.”

  3. Wilbur Dee Case

    1. …dann seng mas scho.

    2. You have not fallen far short of the mark, you hit Romantic gold; and that’s where you are at—in the forest of Keats, with a touch of Shelley—Milton not so much, nor Dante.

    3. The diction is sublime, situated between Romantic and Victorian. The meter is decidedly iambic pentametre, and your variants are typical. Do not put down your rural, boondocks elementary school; frequently such schools are superior to “smart” urban ones; you seem to have learned your basic grammar.

    4. No, it would be better to spend more time studying Dante than the ribaldry at The Penn; but The Penn, like Trinacria, the SCP, etc. all offer nice, if limited, examples of New Millennial poetry. The World is big. There are more places than these.

    Reply

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