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Allen Tate

(19 November 1899 - 9 February 1979 / Winchester, Kentucky)

The Cross


There is a place that some men know,
I cannot see the whole of it
Nor how I came there. Long ago
Flame burst out of a secret pit
Crushing the world with such a light
The day-sky fell to moonless black,
The kingly sun to hateful night
For those, once seeing, turning back:
For love so hates mortality
Which is the providence of life
She will not let it blessed be
But curses it with mortal strife,
Until beside the blinding rood
Within that world-destroying pit
-Like young wolves that have tasted blood,
Of death, men taste no more of it.
So blind, in so severe a place
(All life before in the black grave)
The last alternatives they face
Of life, without the life to save,
Being from all salvation weaned-
A stag charged both at heel and head:
Who would come back is turned a fiend
Instructed by the fiery dead.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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