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A Rhapsody Of Death.


That phantoms fair, with radiant hair,
May seek at midnight hour
The sons of men, belov'd again,
And give them holy power;
That souls survive the mortal hive, and sinless come and go,
Is true as death, the prophet saith; and God will have it so.


For who be ye who doubt and prate?
O sages! make it clear
If ye be more than men of fate,
Or less than men of cheer;
If ye be less than bird or beast? O brothers! make it plain
If ye be bankrupts at a feast, or sharers in a gain.


You say there is no future state;
The clue ye fail to find.
The flesh is here, and bones appear
When graves are undermined.
But of the soul, in time of dole, what answer can ye frame -
Ye who have heard no spirit-word to guide ye to the same.


Ah! facts are good, and reason's good,
But fancy's stronger far;
In weal or woe we only know
We know not what we are.
The sunset seems a raging fire, the clouds roll back, afraid;
The rainbow seems a broken lyre on which the storm has play'd.


But these, ye urge, are outward signs.
Such signs are not for you.
The sight's deceiv'd and truth bereav'd
By diamonds of the dew.
The sage's mind is more refined, his rapture more complete;
He almost knows the little rose that blossoms at his feet!


The sage can kill a thousand things,
And tell the names of all;
And wrench away the wearied wings
Of eagles when they fall;
And calmly trace the lily's grace, or fell the strongest tree,
And almost feel, if not reveal, the secrets of the sea.


But can he set, by day or night,
The clock-work of the skies?
Or bring the dead man back to sight
With soul-invested eyes?
Can he describe the ways of life, the wondrous ways of death,
And whence it came, and what the flame that feeds the vital breath?


If he could do such deeds as these,
He might, though poor and low,
Explain the cause of Nature's laws,
Which none shall ever know;
He might recall the vanish'd years by lifting of his hand,
And bid the wind go north or south to prove what he has plann'd.


But God is just. He burdens not
The shoulders of the sage;
He pities him whose sight is dim;
He turns no second page.
There are two pages to the book. We men have read the one;
The other needs a spirit-look, in lands beyond the sun.


The other needs a poet's eye,
Like that of Milton blind;
The light of Faith which cannot die,
Though doubts perplex the mind;
The eyesight of a little child; a martyr's eye in dole,
Which sees afar the golden star that shines upon the soul!

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Submitted on August 03, 2020

Modified on May 03, 2023

2:39 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,497
Words 516
Stanzas 10
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6

Eric Mackay

George Eric Mackay was an English minor poet, now remembered as the sponging half-brother of Marie Corelli, the best-selling novelist. Mackay and Corelli, born Mary Mackay, were the children of Charles Mackay, by different mothers. As a poet he is described as "execrable", and reliant on Corelli's promotion of his works. Mackay achieved some reputation in his time for Letters of a Violinist. It sold 35,000 copies; he repaid Corelli's efforts by implying he wrote her novels. A 1940 biography of Corelli, George Bullock's Marie Corelli: The Life and Death of a Best-Seller, hinted that the relationship was incestuous; this has generally been discounted, though Eric's laziness and lack of scruples are acknowledged. This was an old rumour, attributed to Edmund Gosse. more…

All Eric Mackay poems | Eric Mackay Books

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    "A Rhapsody Of Death." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 28 May 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/55167/a-rhapsody-of-death.>.

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