Gloria Mundi (Carryl)
Paris, 1900 (1900)
|This poem was published in the posthumous anthology The Garden of Years and Other Poems (1904).|
Magician hands through long, laborious nights
Have made these princely palaces to loom
Whiter than are the city’s legion lights,
On threads unseen stretched out across the gloom.
Reared in an hour, for one brief hour to reign,
The proud pavilions watchful hold in fee
A world’s achievements, where the stately Seine
Slides slowly past her bridges to the sea.
Mute and memorial, as on either bank
She sees the marvel worked before her eyes,
Beholds as in a vision, rank on rank.
Pagoda, dome, and campanile rise,
Like to a mother scowling on a child
Sceptred and crowned to make a queen of May,
The Seine, that sorrowed not for France defiled,
Past France triumphant frowning goes her way.
Yet, dragged reluctant from these ransomed shores,
Upon her tide, that sullenly and slow
Creeps channelward, the unapparent scores
Of history’s spectres disregarded go;
And as the Empress City gains the seat
Of that imperial throne to which at last
By devious ways she comes, beneath her feet
The Seine in silence blots away the past.
Blots out the warning of cathedral bells,
The night of snowy scarfs, of swords, of staves,
The muffled bass of tumbril wheels that tells
Of mortal men that dig immortal graves;
Blots out the faces, calmly unafraid.
Of prince and peasant, courtesan and queen.
When men made martyrs and were martyrs made,
When France meant Hell and God meant Guillotine!
Like pilgrims whom a holy city calls,
The peoples bring their miracles to her;
The world of peace lays down within her walls
Its gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh:
The West, wide-eyed, alert, intrepid, young,
With rush of shuttles and the song of steam;
The East, that, lotus-eating, gropes among
The half-remembered fragments of her dream.
From minarets the muezzins call to prayer,
From violins the mad mazurkas rise,
And western rangers watch in wonder, where
The camel boy his listless lash applies:
And nations warring, or that late have warred,
Their feuds forgot, their battles under ban,
Proclaim above the clamor of the sword
The pæan of the mastery of man.
Man! Born to grovel in a squalid cave,
Whose hand it is that every door unbars.
Whose cables cleave three thousand miles of wave,
Whose lenses tear their secrets from the stars!
Man! Naked, dull, unarmed, barbaric, dumb,
What magic path is this that he had trod?
Through what refining furnace hath he come,
This demi-brute become a demi-god?
As some great river merges every song
Of tributary waters in its own,
To blend in turn its music in the strong
Full measure of the ocean’s monotone—
So this triumphant anthem, skyward sent
Man’s marvellous finale to presage,
Within its thunderous diapason blent,
The keynote holds of each succeeding age!
For here the whip-lash sings above the slaves
Who bend despairing to the galley’s oars;
The hoarse hail rings, across the sunlit waves,
Of vikings bound to unexploited shores:
Here is the chant of ransomed Israel’s joy,
The moan of Egypt stricken in her home,
The challenge of the Grecian host to Troy,
The shout of Huns before the gates of Rome:
The oaths of sailors on the galleon’s decks,
The welcome of Columbus to the land,
The prayers upon the doomed Armada’s wrecks,
The rallying cry of Braddock’s final stand;
Trafalgar’s cannon, and the bugle’s calls
Where France’s armies thread the Alpine gorge,
The Campbell’s pipes heard near to Lucknow’s walls,
The patriot’s hymn that hallowed Valley Forge!
All, all are here! The feeble and the strong;
The spoiled beside the victors of the spoil
Of twenty centuries swell the sacred song
Of human triumph won by human toil!
Up and yet upward to the heaven’s wide arch
The thunders of the great thanksgiving roll
To mark the way of that majestic march
Of mortal man toward his Maker’s goal!
And while the echo of her folly dies,
As in the hills the sound of village bells,
Upward from Paris to the April skies
Her hymn of rehabilitation swells;
From dark to dawn, from weakness back to strength,
The pendulum majestically swings,
And o’er the ashes of her past at length
The phœnix of her future spreads its wings!
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.