Mandragora/Travellers

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Travellers
by John Cowper Powys
Published in Mandragora (1917)

TRAVELLERS


TOO many times have we both been born;
   Too far have we voyaged — dear Christ, too far!
Too deep disguises have we both worn,
   And the masks of too many an avatar!

I catch on your face the old sad smile
   Of our ancient disillusionment,
When the ardent crowd tries to beguile
   Your world-old soul to impassionment.

And in a moment I know you again.
   And you know me and we mock them all,
As we did of old on the Trojan plain,
   As we did of old on the Roman wall.

As we did in Carthage and Syracuse,
   As we did in Syria and Cathay,
One look — and in a moment they lose
   All hold on us. We have slipped away.

Love? Let them talk of Love! Our bond
   Goes deeper. It has been sealed in death.
We have looked on Isis in Trebizond
   And in Tyre have worshipped Ashtoreth.

Truth? Let them talk of Truth! We laugh,
   Who have seen Eleusis wreath'd in flame
And the high lamps swung o'er the cenotaph
   Of Her the immortals must not name.


Beauty? As tho' breathed not from you
    The very dawn of creation's day,
When the planets with all their retinue
    Leaped forth to meet you on your way!

Our dreams have mingled. The new times bring
    Old snatches of buried memory,
Which trouble us like a whispering,
    Heard at the bottom of the sea.

We have been too far; we have dived too deep,
    Death itself cannot quench the spark.
We know too much of the ways of sleep
    To fear the everlasting dark.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1963, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.