"The Return" by Thomas Cole‘Ode to Immortality’ by William Krusch The Society September 16, 2018 Beauty, Poetry 11 Comments 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. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 11 Responses James Sale September 16, 2018 Thank you William – your line “where rhymes/ Are not obscured by mortal taint” perfectly expresses the poet’s perennial problem! Reply Amy Foreman September 16, 2018 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 September 17, 2018 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 September 17, 2018 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.” Wilbur Dee Case September 18, 2018 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 William Krusch September 20, 2018 Thank you, Bruce – I am glad someone appreciates what I am trying to express. I will say that I do not consider myself a Romantic, but I also do not consider Keats or Shelley Romantics; rather, I see them very much in the classical tradition. To me, Romanticism is represented by writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Byron – I think the chief distinction is that while the Romantic poets get lost in the senses alone, Keats and Shelley always have “intellectual Beauty” in mind, and their poetry always elevates one to the sublime. To write about the beauties or terrors of nature requires only a basic understanding of meter and a vocabulary to describe what one sees; to write about the sublime and intellectual Beauty requires an immense understanding of metaphor and irony (in the manner in which Plato, Aeschyslus, Shakespeare, and Schiller use it, not the watered-down version people speak of today), something which poems like Keats’ late odes and Shelley’s “To a Skylark,” “Epipsychidion,” “Ode to the West Wind,” and “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” (among others) capture with astounding power and clarity. I admit my skills in using metaphor are exceedingly below that of both Keats and Shelley, but we must nonetheless strive towards conveying agapē. I hope that at the end humanity will be more moved by Divine Love than by board games… Reply C.B. Anderson September 21, 2018 There are many schools of poetry, but few apt students. I don’t blame you for failing to toe the line of New Formalism, but what other movement today demands commitment to coherent structure and logophilic exposition? Your work is beyond that of a freshman, and I can’t wait to see what you will come out with when you are a junior. Michael R. Burch September 21, 2018 Well said. It’s a big world and there’s room enough for many kinds of poetry (including free verse). I have published many of the better contemporary formalist poets over the last 20+ years, through The HyperTexts, and most of them were not narrow-minded, with a few exceptions. I remember Richard Moore complimenting the “extraordinary delicacy” of Walt Whitman. I helped Kevin N. Roberts with the launch of Romantics Quarterly and the journal published many different flavors of romantic and formal verse. Reply R. Lee Ubicwedas September 22, 2018 1. I can understand how someone could treat Keats and Shelley as classicists. If I’m not mistaken, Canadian Mr. Gosselin does so, too. And I am sure there are others. I tend to just group individuals by time. So, even Schiller (1755-1805), Blake (1757-1827), and Burns (1759-1796) along with others, yes, Wordsworth (1770-1850), Scott (1771-1832) Coleridge (1772-1834), Southey (1774-1843), Landor (1775-1864), and really so many others, up to Poe (1809-1849) and the Brontes, I consider Romantics—from the Americas to Western Europe to Russia. Though I appreciate the term “Romantic” of Schlegel (1772-1829), I do not use it as he did. I tend to just group individuals by time—without emotional tinge—and, as I am a traditionalist, I tend to accept historical terms—where appropriate. 2. I think the Romantic Zeitgeist was too large for Keats, or Shelley, to be differentiated from it; I think they contributed to it, along with countless others in dozens of areas, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, painting, music, etc. Nor do I consider the odes of Keats or Shelley, particularly outstanding; though, they were an inspiration to me in my youth. It is nice to be reminded of them; but their contributions are not the equal of Plato in prose, Aeschylus in dramatic poetry, or Shakespeare in dramatic poetry and prose; and each of those mentioned figures is limited—”as are we all” [Al Stewart: “Sirens of Titan”], including the following Romantic figures: Dalton (1766-1844), Fourier (1768-1830), Ampère (1775-1836), Gauss (1777-1855), Davy (1778-1829), Gay-Lussac (1778-1850), Berzelius (1779-1848), Ohm, (1789-1854), Cauchy (1789-1857), Faraday (1791-1867), and Galois (1811-1832). Yes, we should be striving—but the striving, though infused with agapē is much larger by far than agapē; and we are all only on the threshold… Reply C.B. Anderson September 23, 2018 Yeah, Bruce, but this was totally ham-fisted. Reply William Krusch September 23, 2018 Given that you mention so many physicists from the nineteenth century, I wonder if you are referring to Hertz and the photoelectric effect when you say “threshold.” I agree with Gosselin that Keats and Shelley are more classical and Romantic writers, but he and I have some different views regarding rhythmic and meter and the function of rhyme. Despite our disagreements, I have great respect for him as a translator of Schiller and Heine. You needn’t worry that I am a nonexistent personality like Ruleman’s Connor Rosemond (that is the only way I can explain Ruleman’s “to my precious C.R.” poem from a month or so ago, but if Rosemond is indeed a real person, I would be delighted to meet him considering we presumably live in the same state). I disagree with Shelley on his atheism, though I think this arises from different definitions of God. Shelley’s God seems closely tied to that of a tyrannical controller of organized Christianity, whereas I view God closer to Gödel’s definition he puts forth in his ontological proof, that God is the greatest formal “container,” so to speak. I agree with Shelley’s ideas on Love and Liberty and Truth, but I don’t think that freedom of spirit negates the idea of God. Shelley’s idea seems to be a very literal interpretation of predestination. I am more inclined toward the Gawain-poet’s idea that we are given free will to choose either to live in accord with or against divine law. Also, Milton’s idea that Satan’s revolt was necessary because God, being omniscient, would obviously have foreseen it, and therefore allowed humanity to fall in order for it to better appreciate liberty after having known evil, has certainly influenced my thoughts. Of course, my thoughts on these ideas are always changing and developing, and I am aware of some of the logical holes still in my theories. Perhaps I am also influenced by the fact that my relationship with Christianity has never been organized (I have never been to a church service in my life), but rather my knowledge of it comes from what it borrowed from Plato via the Neo-Platonics, as well as the works of Dante, Milton, Thomas Cole, C.D. Friedrich, and Dostoevsky. I make no claims as to understanding the universe, only that (1) the soul is immortal and (2) reason and imagination allow the mind to apprehend the infinite, which is obviously beyond both time and space, justifying the idea that the soul is immortal because death is a physical phenomenon (not to get sucked into Kantian terminology), and not intellectual/Formal. I will agree with Shelley that it is the intellect of life which is eternal. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. 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