John Freeman

(1880-1929 / England)

Evening Beauty: Blackfriars - Poem by John Freeman

Nought is but beauty weareth, near and far,
Under the pale, blue sky and lonely star.
This is that quick hour when the city turns
Her troubled harsh distortion and blind care
Into brief loveliness seen everywhere,
While in the fuming west the low sun smouldering burns.

Not brick nor marble the rich beauty owns,
Not this is held in starward-pointing stones.
Sun, wind and smoke the threefold magic stir,
Kissing each favourless poor ruin with kiss
Like that when lovers lovers lure to bliss,
And earth than towered heaven awhile is heavenlier.

Tall shafts that show the sky how far away!
The thousand-window'd house gilded with day
That fades to night; the arches low, the streamer
Everywhere of the ruddy'd smoke.... Is aught
Of loveliness so rich e'er sold and bought?
Look visions fairer in the eyes of any dreamer?

Needs must so rare a beauty be so brief!
Night comes, of this delight the subtle thief.
Thou canst not, Night, this same rich thievery keep;
Seize it and look! 'tis gone, ere seized is gone--
Only in our warm bosoms lingering on,
A nest of precious dreams when our lids droop in sleep.

So in her darkening loveliness is she seen
Like an autumnal passion-haunted queen,
Who hears, 'A captain-king is at the gate'--
''Tis Antony, Antony!' Then hastens she,
Beauty to beauty adding yet, till--see,
A queen within the queen perilous with love and fate!

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Maya Angelou

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 24, 2010

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