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Normale Version: A MAN AGAINST TIME (3)
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WILLIAM ELLERY LEONARD
1876 – 1944 USA

A MAN AGAINST TIME

I.

Names of vast cities off beyond your years --
Ahmednuggar, Bangkok, and Bangalore,
Kerbela, Chinkiang, Kharkov, and Algiers,
And Banyuwangi, Kostroma, Lahore;
Names of vast cities off beyond my fears --
Shimonoseki, Santos, Singapore,
Tananarivo, Saskatoon, Namirs,
And Pernambuco, Nice, San Salvador;

Names of vast cities off beyond our love --
Mosul, Mendoza, Tucuman, Dijon,
Guadalajara, Pavia, and Rostov,
Rosario, Santander, Edmonton . . .
With Buddha-bells, spires, minarets -- more far
Than our last moon or sessions with a star.


II.

I long to bore in earth and plunge in fire,
For the one's darkness and the other's light,
For tree-roots, for stone base of mountain height,
For each telluric Under propping Higher;
For core of flame inside its cone or spire,
Where motion splits from motion out of sight,
Which makes the sun and radiations right
Whence plants get peace and animals desire.

I long to plunge in fire and bore in earth --
But most for dead-folk. Dear, these elements
Hold Druid whispers, roaring caravan,
Battles and weddings, infants, music, mirth,
And all abandoned feasts and parliaments
Since graves and pyres have been the house of man.


III.

Though crippled, prisoned, white-haired, fifty-eight,
My world a heap of ashes, splinters, shards,
Until I die, by God, I'll stand up straight --
And when I die I want no flowers and cards.
What have I seen? I've seen the Caesars come,
The work of Athens and Rome's Senate free
And parliaments of centuries stricken dumb,
And upstarts spitting on democracy.

I've seen man's speech, which Time had won for art
Since Homer clear and clean and serving man
Distorted, maimed, and in the insane mart
The laurel-crown on every charlatan.
I'll stand up straight, not to rebuke these years
But for my faith in my abandoned peers.
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