Man’s Unresting Search

What message is in the stars?

What voice begins the echo?

A restless feeling in every bar

Of nature’s song in undertow

 

Timeless truths lay waiting

But trick and lead in paths

By pieces insistently making

The puzzle fit a fated aftermath

 

The human mind can only grasp

Objects in view sized to match

But forces rage beyond his clasp

Wild things run beyond his patch

 

Can any theory demarcate

Without a battery of failed search

The lines that tangle intricate

Cannot be seen from lofty perch

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Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire

Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_The_Savage_State_1836.jpgThe Savage State

In murky mists of timeless serenity

The gathering waters of combining entities

Greening pastures and competing trees

Wild forms flitter energy into the wind

With fire man’s natural tether is rescinded

Creatures hide from nature’s uncaring wrath

Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_The_Arcadian_or_Pastoral_State_1836Pastoral State

The tired tilling of unwilling ground

Dependent on herd, to nature bound

In basic structures the eternal unfurls

Man makes his sacrifice in unknown world

An old man sits wondering man’s destiny

Children play as women dance free

Cole_Thomas_The_Consummation_The_Course_of_the_Empire_1836The Consummation of Empire

Beings apart, beauty announced from high

Statues and trumpets call unto the sky

Ordered masses gather to temples adorned

With fountain springs, golden calf horns

A gentle sky, gentle wind for gentle boats

The empire of Man to the Gods gloat

Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_Destruction_1836Destruction

Whirlwind clouds whelm the troubled city

That worshiped power and showed no pity

The poison returned in a crashing storm

The masses flee or desperately pray

The dead collapse into a sea of torn

Sturdy rope of a sudden frightful fray

Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_Desolation_1836Desolation

A moon completes its course in dead sky

Moss grows where scattered fragments lie

Who lived among these ruins vast?

Into what destruction were they cast?

Lost to time what seemed eternal

Complacent hubris grants life infernal

 

This poem is inspired and based upon Thomas Cole’s series of paintings collectively known as The Course of Empire. I have reproduced the pictures from the Wikipedia page where you can learn more about it – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Course_of_Empire_(paintings)

I had previously done a poem based on Cole’s The Voyage of Life (which you can read here – https://hawthornepassage.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/thomas-coles-the-voyage-of-life/) and on finding The Course of Empire wanted to do something similar again. I also found a wonderfully written poem on Destruction by Cathartic Tendencies which I recommend you to read here – Degraded Humility

Rewriting Psalm 69 as Poem

In deep mire sinking

Where the floods overflow

Weary of my crying

Soul swept in undertow

 

My naked foolishness

And sins laid bare

Reproached in truthfulness

Shame I cannot bear

 

Dishonour to my family

Weight upon my heart

Show me tender mercy

Swiftly as a dart

 

Seeking friends for comfort

Cast from the gate

Laughing drunken braggarts

Scorn my dark fate

 

Gall was my meat

Vinegar my drink

Put snares among their feet

Let wrath unto them slink

 

Those persecuting the fallen

Be smitten with grief

Let death come calling

Send iniquity the thief

 

Set the sorrowed on high

Let the humble be glad

A city of grateful tie

For all the earnest sad

The Temporal

Where can you leave what cannot enter the grave

What remains of value that cannot be saved

The path you travel is unevenly paved

 

What beauty is there that time will never fade?

The face you love or a touch in passing made

Memory provides an unequal trade

 

What power can bark commands beyond its age

Heedless of circumstance or the mobs that rage

From above or below paying its wage

 

What pleasure can enrich beyond the hour

Stays as sweet when the world has turned sour

A soul that smiles at faces dour

 

Is there any cause that in peace is beseeched

Through seas of blood can ever be reached

Or rebuild the walls recklessly breached

 

With no point of reference do we drift in space

At unmeasurable speed and in no time or place

Or glimpse with a startle eternity’s face

Turns Of Nature

Beauteous forms, ever by the wailing sky

Moonbeams unshorn, onto sea of rippled sigh

Bridge not the waters

Lest death should call you nigh

 

A glow appears, casting out all blackened gloom

Light in arrears, forces day from bottomless womb

Is there no glimmer

That can seep into dustiest tomb

 

Taste the air, winter’s bitter morning gasp

Sunbeams rare, assuage little the wind’s rasp

This season of wither

Holds tongues of venomous asp

 

When gardens colour, and lover’s arms open wide

Tempers duller, absorbing breeze from every side

Striving matches tranquil

Finding body where the soul bides

 

A glorious summer, joys every half thawed heart

Senses number, to the world’s worn out starts

Each well drawn well

Still refreshing all it can impart

 

A dying ray, straining onto a decaying leaf

Giving way, to darkness coming like a thief

Shadows stretch into nothing

Stealing under a turn of grief

 

Sails are furled, sun falls like a wingless dove

Wheels will twirl, minds fail to come to shove

Return to nature’s equity

Lie frozen, unstirred from above

Rewriting Samarithan by Candlemass as Poem

A cold day, a ragged man

Bedraggled, frail, death-sickness began

Begging a mere penny to survive

 

A shocking sight, consumed by pity

Trading self-concern for hospitality

A welcome shelter I contrived

 

As he died he muttered weak

Recompense I’ve not the power to seek

Yet repayment shall unsolicited arrive

 

In fifty years such things forget

To my grave I was soon to be set

Seeing three angles my senses revived

 

The first one said to me, be not afraid

In grace and immortality, the debt is repaid

The second with golden eyes, unbound me by wings

To heaven I would arise, new wisdom to bring

In rays

 

The third was solemn faced, weight of the vault

She gave me wise understanding, man’s eternal fault

Now I was lost to dream, spirit of no name

My efforts were worthy deemed, to heaven I came

To stay