Saturday, December 31, 2011

The World Above in the World Below

New Year's Chimes
by Francis Thompson


What is the song the stars sing?
(And a million songs are as song of one.)
This is the song the stars sing:
Sweeter song's none.

One to set, and many to sing,
(And a million songs are as song of one),
One to stand, and many to cling,
The many things, and the one Thing,
The one that runs not, the many that run.

The ever new weaveth the ever old
(And a million songs are as song of one).
Ever telling the never told;
The silver saith, and the said is gold,
And done ever the never done.

The chase that's chased is the Lord o' the chase
(And a million songs are as song of one),
And the pursued cries on the race;
And the hounds in leash are the hounds that run.

Hidden stars by the shown stars' sheen;
(And a million suns are but as one);
Colours unseen by the colours seen,
And sounds unheard heard sounds between,
And a night is in the light of the sun.

An ambuscade of light in night,
(And a million secrets are but as one),
And a night is dark in the sun's light,
And a world in the world man looks upon.

Hidden stars by the shown stars' wings,
(And a million cycles are but as one),
And a world with unapparent strings
Knits the simulant world of things;
Behold, and vision thereof is none.

The world above in the world below
(And a million worlds are but as one),
And the One in all; as the sun's strength so
Strives in all strength, glows in all glow
Of the earth that wits not, and man thereon.

Braced in its own fourfold embrace
(And a million strengths are as strength of one),
And round it all God's arms of grace,
The world, so as the Vision says,
Doth with great lightning-tramples run.

And thunder bruiteth into thunder,
(And a million sounds are as sound of one),
From stellate peak to peak is tossed a voice of wonder,
And the height stoops down to the depths thereunder,
And sun leans forth to his brother-sun.

And the more ample years unfold
(With a million songs as song of one),
A little new of the ever old,
A little told of the never told,
Added act of the never done.

Loud the descant, and low the theme,
(A million songs are as song of one);
And the dream of the world is dream in dream,
But the one Is is, or nought could seem;
And the song runs round to the song begun.

This is the song the stars sing,
(Ton-ed all in time);
Tintinnabulous, tuned to ring
A multitudinous-single thing,
Rung all in rhyme.

This is one of those poems that you have to read several times before you get the hang of it: technically brilliant on the part of the writer, and technically demanding on the part of the reader.

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