Monday, March 31, 2014


One poem I love is by A. C. Swinburne [1837-1909], called "Pan and Thalassius" [and more here]--it has an incredible moment of passion and is both Greek and universal in its feeling. The stanza below I've excerpted is one I think that speaks to the maenad or Dionysian reveler in all of us, and the desire of all people to feel true abandon, joy, love and power.

The joy of the wild woods never
Leaves free of the thirst it slakes:The wild love throbs in us everThat burns in the dense hot brakes

Many don't have lives that allow for self-expression or even a lot of freedom, but that feeling still lives on inside the heart. Here is the whole thing:


O sea-stray, seed of Apollo,What word wouldst thou have with me?My ways thou wast fain to followOr ever the years hailed theeMan.
NowIf August brood on the valleys,If satyrs laugh on the lawns,What part in the wildwood alleysHast thou with the fleet-foot fauns—Thou?
See!Thy feet are a man's—not clovenLike these, not light as a boy's:The tresses and tendrils inwovenThat lure us, the lure of them cloysThee.
[Pg 216]UsThe joy of the wild woods neverLeaves free of the thirst it slakes:The wild love throbs in us everThat burns in the dense hot brakesThus.
Life,Eternal, passionate, awless,Insatiable, mutable, dear,Makes all men's law for us lawless:We strive not: how should we fearStrife?
We,The birds and the bright winds know notSuch joys as are ours in the mildWarm woodland; joys such as grow notIn waste green fields of the wildSea.
No;Long since, in the world's wind veering,Thy heart was estranged from me:Sweet Echo shall yield thee not hearing:What have we to do with thee?Go.

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