Percy MacKaye

(1897-1956 / United States)

The Child-Dancers - Poem by Percy MacKaye

A bomb has fallen over Notre Dame:
Germans have burned another Belgian town:
Russians quelled in the east: England in qualm:

I closed my eyes, and laid the paper down.

Gray ledge and moor-grass and pale bloom of light
By pale blue seas!
What laughter of a child world-sprite,
Sweet as the horns of lone October bees,
Shrills the faint shore with mellow, odd delight?
What elves are these
In smocks gray-blue as sea and ledge,
Dancing upon the silvered edge
Of darkness—each ecstatic one
Making a happy orison,
With shining limbs, to the low-sunken sun?—
See: now they cease
Like nesting birds from flight:
Demure and debonair
They troop beside their hostess' chair
To make their bedtime courtesies:
'Spokoinoi notchi!—Gute Nacht!
Bon soir! Bon soir!—Good night!'

What far-gleaned lives are these
Linked in one holy family of art?—
Dreams: dreams once Christ and Plato dreamed:
How fair their happy shades depart!

Dear God! how simple it all seemed,
Till once again
Before my eyes the red type quivered: Slain:
Ten thousand of the enemy.—
Then laughter! laughter from the ancient sea
Sang in the gloaming: Athens! Galilee!
And elfin voices called from the extinguished light:—
'Spokoinoi notchi!—Gute Nacht!
Bon soir! Bon soir!—Good night!'


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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