Guest poem submitted by J. Goard:
(Poem #913) In Time of War, XII
And the age ended, and the last deliverer died. In bed, grown idle and unhappy; they were safe: The sudden shadow of the giant's enormous calf Would fall no more at dusk across the lawn outside. They slept in peace: in marshes here and there no doubt A sterile dragon lingered to a natural death, But in a year the spoor had vanished from the heath; The kobold's knocking in the mountain petered out. Only the sculptors and the poets were half sad, And the pert retinue from the magician's house Grumbled and went elsewhere. The vanished powers were glad To be invisible and free: without remorse Struck down the sons who strayed their course, And ravished the daughters, and drove the fathers mad.
The relevance of this poem to today's climate hardly needs mention, although I suspect that, depending upon one's own viewpoint, it could be interpreted in different ways. This is the final sonnet from "In Time of War", looking forward to an extended period of peace in Europe after WWII, not with celebration but with warning. The metaphor of ancient mythical monsters reinforces our feeling that this cycle has been going since the beginning of time. The alexandrine (iambic hexameter) isn't used very often these days, and in fact it's even difficult to find decent examples from the past. As Auden's sonnet shows, however, the alexadrine isn't merely a curiosity, but a vibrant form. In my opinion, very few lines of pentameter flow as smoothly and somberly as the second quatrain does here. Most interesting is the unexpected shift in the final two lines, to tetrameter and pentameter. When I read this out loud, my feeling is a swift violence in line 13 and then, reinforcing the theme, a feeling that the pace of life has changed. About as good an example as you'll find of form matching content. --JG-- [Minstrels Links] W. H. Auden: Poem #50, In Memory of W. B. Yeats Poem #68, Musee des Beaux Arts Poem #256, Funeral Blues Poem #307, Lay your sleeping head, my love Poem #371, O What Is That Sound Poem #386, The Unknown Citizen Poem #427, The Two Poem #491, Roman Wall Blues Poem #494, The Fall of Rome Poem #618, The More Loving One Poem #677, Villanelle Poem #708, Five Songs - II Poem #728, from The Dog Beneath the Skin Poem #762, Miranda Poem #868, Partition Poem #889, September 1, 1939 Poem #895, August 1968