George William Russell - Tragedy

A MAN went forth one day at eve:
The long day’s toil for him was done:
The eye that scanned the page could leave
Its task until tomorrow’s sun.

Upon the threshold where he stood
Flared on his tired eyes the sight,
Where host on host the multitude
Burned fiercely in the dusky night.

The starry lights at play—at play—
The giant children of the blue,
Heaped scorn upon his trembling clay
And with their laughter pierced him through.

They seemed to say in scorn of him
“The power we have was once in thee.
King, is thy spirit grown so dim,
That thou art slave and we are free?”

As out of him the power—the power—
The free—the fearless, whirled in play,
He knew himself that bitter hour
The close of all his royal day.

And from the stars’ exultant dance
Within the fiery furnace glow,
Exile of all the vast expanse,
He turned him homeward sick and slow.

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