17 April 2009

From Masefield's 'Good Friday'

I have read and collected various works by the English poet, John Masefield, ever since I first learned of him from Fr Andrew Phillips (here, to be precise). Sometime I shall have to do a post on the several works of the poet I’ve acquired so far. But for now, this will serve as a brief introduction. This is a speech by the ‘Madman’ in Masefield’s ‘Good Friday, A Dramatic Poem’, from Good Friday and Other Poems (NY: Macmillan, 1916), pp. 38-41:

Madman. The wild-duck, stringing through the sky,
Are south away.
Their green necks glitter as they fly,
The lake is gray,
So still, so lone, the fowler never heeds.
The wind goes rustle, rustle, through the reeds.
* * * * * * * * *
There they find peace to have their own wild souls.
In that still lake,
Only the moonrise or the wind controls
The way they take,
Through the gray reeds, the cocking moorhen’s lair,
Rippling the pool, or over leagues of air.
* * * * * * * * *
Not thus, not thus are the wild souls of men.
No peace for those
Who step beyond the blindness of the pen
To where the skies unclose.
For them the spitting mob, the cross, the crown of thorns,
The bull gone mad, the saviour on his horns.
* * * * * * * * *
Beauty and Peace have made
No peace, no still retreat,
No solace, none.
Only the unafraid
Before life’s roaring street
Touch Beauty’s feet,
Know Truth, do as God bade,
Become God’s son. [Pause.]

Darkness come down, cover a brave man’s pain.
Let the bright soul go back to God again.
Cover that tortured flesh, it only serves
To hold that thing which other power nerves.
Darkness, come down, let it be midnight here,
In the dark night the untroubled soul sings clear. [It darkens.]

I have been scourged, blinded and crucified,
My blood burns on the stones of every street
In every town; wherever people meet
I have been hounded down, in anguish died. [It darkens.]

The creaking door of flesh rolls slowly back.
Nerve by red nerve the links of living crack,
Loosing the soul to tread another track.

Beyond the pain, beyond the broken clay,
A glimmering country lies
Where life is being wise,
All of the beauty seen by truthful eyes
Are lilies there, growing beside the way.
Those golden ones will loose the torted hands,
Smooth the scarred brow, gather the breaking soul,
Whose earthly moments drop like falling sands
To leave the spirit whole.
Now darkness is upon the face of the earth. [He goes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I chose to do an english term paper on this exceprt starting at "Beauty and peace have made" until the end. Does anyone have any insight on any hidden meaning found in this poem? thank you