Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Night Will Catch Her Breath Up

Arab Love-Song
by Francis Thompson

The hunchèd camels of the night
Trouble the bright
And silver waters of the moon.
The Maiden of the Morn will soon
Through Heaven stray and sing,
Star gathering.

Now while the dark about our loves is strewn,
Light of my dark, blood of my heart, O come!
And night will catch her breath up, and be dumb.

Leave thy father, leave thy mother
And thy brother;
Leave the black tents of thy tribe apart!
Am I not thy father and thy brother,
And thy mother?
And thou -- what needest with thy tribe's black tents
Who hast the red pavilion of my heart?

I often think that appreciation of Francis Thompson divides the philistine from the nonphilistine when it comes to poetry. Although he is not the greatest of poets, his technical mastery is considerable and broad in scope. Even his weak poems have technical excellences. Thus inability to appreciate Thompson is in a way an inability to appreciate the poetic techniques out of which poems are made in the first place.

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