View Full Version : Poems by Adriaan Roland Holst

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004, 10:18 PM

Doomed only from this earth's remotest range
—estranged from all homes—never to estrange,
I hear—o, soul— round the world's clamouring core
your whispering reproach wherever I go,
and, stumbling, drag my bitter share of woe
in man's remorse to your deserted shore.

For that far westward and disconsolate
your low lament fades to the embittered sea
since man betrayed you here—only too well
I know it since that dread hour when, too late
and shivering, I awoke and found myself
with those that slept in dark Gethsemane.

(A fragment)

Where lies the promised land and sole demesne
of her high heart, tumultuous and proud?
She was not of this crowd,
but, reckless and exalted, like a dream
of heaven and hell above their bargaining feats,
their bungling with regret and lechery.
Did you not see
how she, regardless of them, crossed their streets,
an ancient tale, a saga all ablaze,
and how she strode
as if vast burning clouds were her abode?
One time I saw her, in those earliest days
of my awakening, with inheld breath:
on the town's battlement at fall of night
she stood, and with a low laugh of delight
inhaled the seawind from the isles of death.


The laughter of a child before it yet can prate,
and of a man, who can no longer speak, the sobs:
and, in between, the uproarious world, the clamouring mobs,
the garish idols, adored or blasted—and the afterthought
that all this, when or where it be, leads soon or late
to a cradled child that laughs as if all this were naught.

Here in this world these things are evermore diurnal,
and nevermore fulfilled, but in my heart some time
London will crumble down like Babylon one time;
and, stumbling over ruins, I will sooner or later
come to a child in a garden, small and eternal,
of breathing grass, and of a tree, and living water—


Towards my table, as the room darkened, there came
from beyond time and the world two presences, and they
pointed down at a crystal, calling me by a name
of wind and light: the full moon of death rose in me.

But rushing came a third, and to the wall of clouds
pointed that smouldered in the western afterglow.
I saw, and the past doom realms and their nameless crowds
sank in my heart as he his hand laid on my brow.


Once and afar in bright winterlight roared the North-sea
where at an open window a man lay alone,
laughing, as out on the road a woman repeatedly
called to him, crazy with grief, till at last she was gone.

Life then was cruel and envied, refulgent and bold -
the fierce heart called but the radiant winter its own.
What now remains but an old tale no longer told
in the cramped streets and houses of this bustling town?

While even here these rhymes die out, I feel afraid
to think the tide still greets that shore as that man heard it:
still on its hook that window rattles in the wild light,
and that bright sea still roars - but the house stands deserted


Lonely and wild and cold and passionate -
is that the sea still? What primordial power,
ultimate token of that turbulent realm
of blinding, empty and unending light
now claims the waters?- Deserted are the coasts,
forgotten the high dreams of bygone worlds.
Like to the brazen cymbals of fate and reckoning
the beating waters toll, in onset come
against the world, and high out of the west
from the steep ramparts of the dead is heard
the passionate, the lonely, the wild and cold
opening chord of the harps of the last day.
The great, raised by the prelude of this storm
out of their mortal trance, now calling come
to man's remaining strongholds, and are seen
on the dark western bastions, stern and gaunt,
and pointing to the fateful mystery
of doom and ruin. The spokesmen of our days
bore names, but these bear no names, being trumpets
condemning all that is to the ancient shadows
of what has been, primeval night, before
on high appear the four visages of the spirit:
wide eyes and ruthless voices jubilant -
cold and impassioned and wild and lonely.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004, 10:20 PM

Brooding and burning, the lonely immortals
Over this darkening world have shone.
The wind still echoes through the portals
Where they passed, and with the sun
Flares and fails their dying breath.
The few who recognized and knew them
Hear the woods still amurmur, and wander
Westward, banishing merely human
Grief in those giants' tales of wonder,
Of anguish and pride and death.

The Ploughman

I have no barns, I ask no harvest Lord.
Thy willing laborer is penniless.
But I am rich in this:
That I may steer the ploughshare of Thy word,
And that to me Thou hast assigned
This far-off land and letst me mind
These rising fields, whence-as I lean
At knocking-off time by the horses of my will,
Weary of limb and still -
The immensity of distant sea is seen

One boon I ask: make fit
My strength to bear the knowledge that I am bound
To live in the fall season of a dying
World and must die in it

Thou knowest, as the rustling litany
Of bygone beauty flutters all around,
That sadness makes me halt while eying
Its fall, until I'm almost lost to Thee.

I shall not see the swelling ear full-grown,
Nor shall I bind the ripened sheaf,
But grant me hope of harvest and belief
That it's my labor's own . . .

That at the farthest furrow I may devine
Myself as chosen, God, by Thy design
To be an earnest tiller of a soil
Of beauty yet to be; a lonely silhouette
On sunset sky of what he held most dear,
Watching the farmstead of his meekness set
In the fork of the road and the gentle smile
Of the lamp of a death that knows no fear.