“Balm for ills unnamed”

REVOLT – Against the Crepuscular Spirit in Modern Poetry

I would shake off the lethargy of this our time,
and give
For shadows—shapes of power
For dreams—men.


“It is better to dream than do”?
Aye! and, No!


Aye! if we dream great deeds, strong men,
Hearts hot, thoughts mighty.


No! if we dream pale flowers,
Slow-moving pageantry of hours that languidly
Drop as o’er-ripened fruit from sallow trees.
If so we live and die not life but dreams,
Great God, grant life in dreams,
Not dalliance, but life!


Let us be men that dream,
Not cowards, dabblers, waiters
For dead Time to reawaken and grant balm
For ills unnamed.

Great God, if we be damn’d to be not men but only dreams,
Then let us be such dreams the world shall tremble at
And know we be its rulers though but dreams!
Then let us be such shadows as the world shall tremble at
And know we be its masters though but shadow!


Great God, if men are grown but pale sick phantoms
That must live only in these mists and tempered lights
And tremble for dim hours that knock o’er loud
Or tread too violent in passing them;


Great God, if these thy sons are grown such thin ephemera,
I bid thee grapple chaos and beget
Some new titanic spawn to pile the hills and stir
This earth again.

EZRA POUND (from Poems and Translations

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