The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Thursday


Darkness
By George Gordon, Lord Byron


I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires--and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,
And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire--but hour by hour
They fell and faded--and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twin'd themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless--they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought--and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer'd not with a caress--he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,
And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects--saw, and shriek'd, and died--
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless--
A lump of death--a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge--
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them -- She was the Universe.

--------

Rediscovered this poem while hunting up Byron quotes for krabapple and "What Deep Wounds Ever Closed Without a Scar," which has revived my long-dormant Byron passion (I go through phases with all the big-name Romantic poets...sometimes Shelley is my favorite, sometimes Wordsworth, sometimes Keats...rarely Coleridge but I like to read him when I've been indulging in Wordsworth).

Orthodontist said son's teeth look great, so much so that he could take the braces off and give him a retainer for the next several months until the permanent incisors are fully in, but we agreed that it might be easiest simply to leave the brackets rather than worrying about him losing a retainer or sneaking gummies. The appointment was so early today that I had to take him out of school before lunch (the third grade is the last lunch group, they don't eat till nearly one) so we went out for Japanese food together afterward and had a nice conversation about ways kids can help tsunami victims.

This evening we all watched The West Wing together. I am so insanely in love with Matt Santos...I am wondering whether Josh is also insanely in love with Matt Santos and only just realizing that because Matt Santos is an insane choice as a viable candidate, which is why I am insanely in love with him. Absolutely can't stand what they're doing to Donna but don't really care at the moment, as I'm not terribly focused on her; Allison Janney was entitled to a week off, adore the Bartlet family politics, liked Toby's nudging Josh, am not in the least sorry that Will is there to run the VP's campaign because if they tried to write any of the other regular characters that way, I'd throw up.

Anyone in the DC area, want to meet up with me to meet Bernard Cornwell on Wednesday, February 2nd at Borders in Bailey's Crossroads? He's reading and signing at 7:30 PM (promoting The Last Kingdom which isn't out till January 25th, but I'm sure he'll sign Sharpe books too). office_ennui, perkypaduan, if you want a ride around the Beltway, just let me know!

So is there a way to input data from a videotape (a commercial VHS tape, not DVC) so it can be burned to a DVD? (Will send backup copies of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Caravaggio and The Competition to anyone who makes this possible!)

I am behind on comments etc. again because Lupin decided that I should write a sequel to "Compellation" -- I think he just wanted to hear Snape talk dirty to him some more but they are insisting on being somewhat serious before the smut. You'd think I could write consequence-free porn in this fandom, but no they're insisting on falling in love or something but don't tell Snape I called it that. Tomorrow is the day I have to get up very early because apaulled always has an early meeting Thursday, so I shall finish up then...


Younger son's drawing of our family as a totem pole for a school assignment. As you can see, I am on the bottom in clashing colors but apparently I am carved of red cedar because it doesn't rot! Also note that older son and I are both wearing glasses, and younger son is wearing his green sweatshirt with the hood.
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