Three from Walsh & Shuster III
Three poems by James J. Daly, S.J.
The Latin Tongue
Like a loud-booming bell shaking its tower
Of granite blocks, the antique Latin tongue
Shook the whole earth; over all seas it flung
Triremes of war, and bade grim legions scour
The world's far verges. Its imperial dower
Made Tullius a god; and Flaccus strung
Its phrases into garlands; while among
The high enchanters it gave Maro power.
Then Latin lost its purple pomp of war,
Its wine-veined laughter and patrician tears;
It cast its fleshly grossness, won a soul,
And trafficked far beyond the farthest star
With angel-cohorts, echoing through the years
In sacred Embassies from pole to pole.
His vigil was the stars; his eyes were bright
With radiance of them. Mystically slow
Was their processional, while far below
Rome's quick and dead slept—fellows in the night.
These very stars had marched in cryptic rite
For Vergil in clear evenings long ago,
Gliding, like motes, athwart the overflow
Of splendor from immortal tides of Light.
"What is this ant-life on a sphere of sand
That it must drive, with ant-like cares, my soul
Than all the stars together more sublime?"
So in the spacious night Ignatius planned
His spacious morrows—centuries his scroll—
Upon a background of Eternal Time.
My friends the leaves, who used to entertain me
On summer afternoons with idle chatter,
Are dropping off in ways that shock and pain me.
I wonder what's the matter.
My friends the birds are quietly withdrawing;
The meadowlarks are gone from fence and stubble;
Even the crows are gone; I liked their cawing.
I wonder what's the trouble.
My friend the sun is here, but altered slightly;
He acts more coolly than than he has been doing;
He seems more distant, and he smiles less brightly.
I wonder what is brewing.
The Catholic Anthology: The World's Great Catholic Poetry (revised edition, 1940), ed. Thomas Walsh and George N. Shuster, pp. 387ff.
See also Three from Walsh & Shuster II: Three sonnets by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Sun. 04/10/05 03:52:21 PM
Categorized as Literary & Sunday Poetry Series.