Astrophobos

In the Midnight heaven's burning
Through the ethereal deeps afar
Once I watch'd with restless yearning
An alluring aureate star;
Ev'ry eve aloft returning
Gleaming nigh the Arctic Car.

Mystic waves of beauty blended
With the gorgeous golden rays
Phantasies of bliss descended
In a myrrh'd Elysian haze.
In the lyre-born chords extended
Harmonies of Lydian lays.

And (thought I) lies scenes of pleasure,
Where the free and blessed dwell,
And each moment bears a treasure,
Freighted with the lotos-spell,
And there floats a liquid measure
From the lute of Israfel.

There (I told myself) were shining
Worlds of happiness unknown,
Peace and Innocence entwining
By the Crowned Virtue's throne;
Men of light, their thoughts refining
Purer, fairer, than my own.

Thus I mus'd when o'er the vision
Crept a red delirious change;
Hope dissolving to derision,
Beauty to distortion strange;
Hymnic chords in weird collision,
Spectral sights in endless range….
Crimson burn'd the star of madness
As behind the beams I peer'd;
All was woe that seem'd but gladness
Ere my gaze with Truth was sear'd;
Cacodaemons, mir'd with madness,
Through the fever'd flick'ring leer'd….
Now I know the fiendish fable
The the golden glitter bore;
Now I shun the spangled sable
That I watch'd and lov'd before;
But the horror, set and stable,
Haunts my soul forevermore!

by Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Other poems of LOVECRAFT (39)

Comments (4)

........beautiful ending.. ~But first I bend to the dying lad- his eyes open- a half-smile gives he me; Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness, Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks, The unknown road still marching. ~
i couldn't agree more with Alain llan Braun in the previous comment....Whitman's brother actually was involved in the war and when Walt went to see his brother he was deeply affected by the wounded soldiers he saw..he also volunteered in army hospitals as a nurse... probbly thats where the inspiration came from...anyways coming back to the poem.. it has a beautiful meaning to it which is poignant and inciting.... i especially liked the last four lines where the soldier who's dying accepts his death with a smile and the person watching can do nothing more than to resume marching in the darkness... the unknown road still marching...which depicts the helplessness and futility of life...! !
The reader is given a dark and hellish scene painted with broad and powerful strokes. For its center-piece, the small grace of the speaker's kindness to a dying soldier, that soldier's calm acceptance of death. This is a masterful job of reporting on events so calamitous they dry the spit from the mouth, come close to stopping human hearts with horror and shame. And a score given of 5.6 from 10? Quite apart from the absurdity of asking the general reader to assess a poem's excellence by assigning to it a numerical score - how can anyone imply that this accomplished work deserves a below average score? So funny I have to weep; so sad I have to laugh.
This poem really impressed me! Who could tell what is the origin or source of inspiration for this very weird 'war poem'? Did Walt Whitman fight during the Civil War? I am quite surprized by the fact that I am the only one poet-member up to now to try to write a comment! This poem is so strong as well as disturbing in a noble way. My feeling is that poetry, such as his, must be disturbing the mind's tranquillity of all readers! Otherwise, what is the meaning of poetry? Just a sweet song? Birds do much better, I can tell you as I am an expert in wild bird songs! As it is dealing with war, blood, suffering and death. I am deeply touched by Walt Whitman's message. I just cannot believe that I am the only one to react! As a French reader and poet I have to find out if this poem has been translated in French? If not I will do it. I hope some people will 'awake' to this comment and send their own!