Christopher John Brennan

(1 November 1870 – 5 October 1932 / Sydney / Australia)

The Twilight Of Disquietude - Poem by Christopher John Brennan

Scant majesty of stars prevails
across the uncreated night,
and fate is in the wind that wails
or clamours on the lonely height.

The years that go to make me man
this day are told a score and six
that should have set me magian
o'er my half-souls that struggle and mix.
But wisdom still remains a star
just hung within my aching ken,
and common prudence dwells afar
among contented homes of men.
In wide revolt and ruin tost
against whatever is or seems
my futile heart still wanders lost
in the same vast and impotent dreams.
On either hand life hurries by
its common joy, its common mirth;
I reach vague hands of sympathy,
a ghost upon this common earth.

I said, And let horizons tempt
and windy gates of eastern flame,
henceforth my place is close and kempt
who know their mockery the same.
Tho' nearer to my humble garth
no star may win its law's release,
patience shall tend my modest hearth
and trim a golden flame of peace,
wherein, perchance, from near and far
shall mingle boons right glad to wed,
the mild ray of the distant star
and the mild oil earth's patience bred.
— No roof-tree join'd the unfinish'd walls;
no lamp might shine, nor hearth-fire burn:
only the wind — the wind that calls —
may sing me welcome..who return.

The pangs that guard the gates of joy
the naked sword that will be kist,
how distant seem'd they to the boy,
white flashes in the rosy mist!
Ah, not where tender play was screen'd
in the light heart of leafy mirth
of that obdurate might we ween'd
that shakes the sure repose of earth.
And sudden, 'twixt a sun and sun,
the veil of dreaming is withdrawn:
lo, our disrupt dominion
and mountains solemn in the dawn;
hard paths that chase the dayspring's white,
and glooms that hold the nether heat:
oh, strange the world upheaved from night,
oh, dread the life before our feet!

My heart was wandering in the sands,
a restless thing, a scorn apart;
Love set his fire in my hands,
I clasped the flame unto my heart.
Surely, I said, my heart shall turn
one fierce delight of pointed flame;
and in that holocaust shall burn
its old unrest and scorn and shame:
surely my heart the heavens at last
shall storm with fiery orisons,
and know, enthroned in the vast,
the fervid peace of molten suns.
The flame that feeds upon my heart
fades or flares, by wild winds controll'd:
my heart still walks a thing apart,
my heart is restless as of old.

The banners of the king unfold
to tend me on my evening way:
my trumpets flood the air with gold;
my pride uplifts the vanquish'd day.
The riches of my heart are bled
to feed the passion of the west:
the limpid springs of life are shed,
and Beauty bares her secret breast.
Hasten, O night with nuptial breath!
O hour remote from any face!
vain-glories fade to sweetest death
heart-whelm'd in her divine embrace.

What of the battles I would win?
alas! their glory is unheard:
the wind of song wakes not their din
wandering in shadowy glens unstirr'd.
— And the great sorrows that I dream'd?
not all unscathed I thought to rise
high in the dateless dawn, redeem'd,
and bare before eternal eyes.
— And is it then the end of dream?
O heart, that long'd for splendid woe,
our shame to endure this dire extreme
of joy we scorned so long ago!

Disaster drives the shatter'd night
before its coming thro' the deep:
the soul is swept with monstrous flight
of fears upstartled from their sleep.
Its silent heaven is rolled away,
and shaken stars flit to and fro:
the mother-face is livid grey
with dumb apocalypse of woe.
The heart that knows its naked doom
awaits the unspoken shock of fate:
perchance, beyond these powers that loom
its hidden god shall rise more great.

The mother-deep, wise, yearning, bound,
I feel it press beneath my heart,
the deep where I were free and crown'd
o'er mine own realm, alone, apart.
It haunts, a grey unlit abysm,
thro' solitary eyelet-slits
pierced in the mean inflicted schism
where day deludes my purblind wits.
But mighty hands have lock'd the keep
and flung the key, long ages past:
there lies no way into the deep
that is myself, alone, aghast.

What do I know? myself alone,
a gulf of uncreated night,
wherein no star may e'er be shown
save I create it in my might.
What have I done? Oh foolish word,
and foolish deed your question craves!
think ye the sleeping depths are stirr'd
tho' tempest hound the madden'd waves?
What do I seek? I seek the word
that shall become the deed of might
whereby the sullen gulfs are stirr'd
and stars begotten on their night.

This is the sea where good and evil merge.
The night is black: we sail towards what sun
or lurid star may flare below the verge.
This is the night where good or bad is none.
O wandering soul upon this darkling surge,
does it not pain thee for the days now done,
the narrow days ere some dark god did urge
to seek some isle where life is whole and one!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 1, 2010

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