William Ernest Henley

(1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)

The Gods Are Dead - Poem by William Ernest Henley

The gods are dead? Perhaps they are! Who knows?
Living at least in Lempriere undeleted,
The wise, the fair, the awful, the jocose,
Are one and all. I like to think, retreated
In some still land of lilacs and the rose.

Once high they sat, and high o’er earthly shows
With sacrificial dance and song were greeted.
Once… long ago. But now, the story goes,
The gods are dead.

It must be true. The world, a world of prose,
Full-crammed with facts, in science swathed and sheeted,
Nods in a stertorous after-dinner doze!
Plangent and sad, in every wind that blows
Who will may hear the sorry words repeated: –
‘The Gods are Dead!’


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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