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Alfred Noyes 1880 (Wolverhampton) – 1958 (Isle of Wight)
(_On many recent novels by the conventional unconventionalists_.)
Old Pantaloon, lean-witted, dour and rich,
After grim years of soul-destroying greed,
Weds Columbine, that April-blooded witch
'Too young' to know that gold was not her need.
Then enters Pierrot, young, rebellious, warm,
With well-lined purse, to teach the fine-souled wife
That the old fool's gold should aid a world-reform
(Confused with sex). This wrecks the old fool's life.
O, there's no doubt that Pierrot was clever,
Quick to break hearts and quench the dying flame;
But why, for his own pride, does Pierrot never
Choose his own mate, work for his own high aim,
Stand on his feet, and pay for his own tune?
Why scold, cheat, rob and kill poor Pantaloon?
(_On a certain goddess, acclaimed as 'new' but known in Babylon._)
I saw the assembled artists of our day
Waiting for light, for music and for song.
A woman stood before them, fresh as May
And beautiful; but, in that modish throng,
None heeded her. They said, 'In our first youth
Surely, long since, your hair was touched with grey.'
'I do not change,' she answered. 'I am Truth.'
'Old and banal,' they sneered, and turned away.
Then came a formless thing, with breasts dyed scarlet.
The roses in her hair were green and blue.
'I am new,' she said. 'I change, and
Death knows why.'
Then with the eyes and gesture of a harlot
She led them all forth, whinneying, 'New, how new!
Tell us your name!' She answered, 'The
(_On Certain of the Bolsheviki 'Idealists.'_)
With half the force and thought you waste in rage
Over your neighbor's house, or heart of stone,
You might have built your own new heritage,
O fools, have you no hands, then, of your own?
Where is your pride? Is this your answer still,
This the red flag that burns above our strife,
This the new cry that rings from Pisgah hill,
'_Our neighbor's money, or our neighbor's life_'?
Be prouder. Let us build that nobler state
With our own hands, with our own muscle and brain!
Your very victories die in hymns of hate;
And your own envies are your heaviest chain.
Is there no rebel proud enough to say
'We'll stand on our own feet, and win the day'?
(_On Certain Realists._)
You with the quick sardonic eye
For all the mockeries of life,
Beware, in this dark masque of things that seem,
Lest even that tragic irony,
Which you discern in this our mortal strife,
Trick you and trap you, also, with a dream.
Last night I saw a dead man borne along
The city streets, passing a boisterous throng
That never ceased to laugh and shout and dance:
And yet, and yet,
For all the poison bitter minds might brew
From themes like this, I knew
That the stern Truth would not permit her glance
Thus to be foiled by flying straws of chance,
For her keen eyes on deeper skies are set,
And laws that tragic ironists forget.
She saw the dead man's life, from birth to death,--
All that he knew of love and sin and pain,
Success and failure (not as this world sees),
His doubts, his passions, inner loss and gain,
And borne on darker tides of constant law
Beyond the margin of this life she saw
All that had left his body with the breath.
These things, to her, were still realities.
If any mourned for him unseen,
She saw them, too.
If none, she'd not pretend
His clay were colder, or his God less true,
Or that his grave, at length, would be less green.
She'd not deny
The boundless depths of her eternal sky
Brooding above a boundless universe,
Because he seemed to man's unseeing eye
Going a little further to fare worse;
Nor would she assume he lacked that unseen friend
Whom even the tragic ironists declare
Were better than the seen, in his last end.
Oh, then, beware, beware,
Lest in the strong name of 'reality'
You mock yourselves anew with shapes of air,
Lest it be you, agnostics, who re-write
The fettering creeds of night,
Affirm you know your own Unknowable,
And lock the wingéd soul in a new hell;
Lest it be you, lip-worshippers of Truth,
Who break the heart of youth;
Lest it be you, the realists, who fight
With shadows, and forget your own pure light;
Lest it be you who, with a little shroud
Snatched from the sightless faces of the dead,
Hoodwink the world, and keep the mourner bowed
In dust, real dust, with stones, real stones, for bread;
Lest, as you look one eighth of an inch beneath
The yellow s
Submitted on May 13, 2011
Modified on March 05, 2023
- 4:00 min read
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|Scheme||A BCBC DEDE FGFG HH H IJIJ KIKI LMXN LMXN A XOXO PEPE QRQR AI A NESTES JJAUMMAAUU VRARXAVA WMXMWNNANAXYX YTYZZXXKKZZ1 2 1 2 XA|
|Closest metre||Iambic pentameter|
|Stanza Lengths||1, 4, 4, 4, 2, 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 2, 1, 6, 10, 8, 13, 17|
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"Five Critcisms" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 30 May 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/1148/five-critcisms>.
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