Robert Nichols

Here you will find the Long Poem The Prophetic Bard's Oration: From A Faun's Holiday of poet Robert Nichols

The Prophetic Bard's Oration: From A Faun's Holiday

'Be warned! I feel the world grow old, 
And off Olympus fades the gold 
Of the simple passionate sun; 
And the Gods wither one by one; 
Proud-eyed Apollo's bow is broken, 
And throned Zeus nods nor may be woken 
But by the song of spirits seven 
Quiring in the midnight heaven 
Of a new world no more forlorn, 
Sith unto it a Babe is born, 
That in a propped, thatched stable lies, 
While with darkling, reverent eyes 
Dusky Emperors, coifed in gold, 
Kneel mid the rushy mire, and hold 
Caskets of rubies, urns of myrrh, 
Whose fumes enwrap the thurifer 
And coil toward the high dim rafters 
Where, with lutes and warbling laughters, 
Clustered cherubs of rainbow feather, 
Fanning the fragrant air together, 
Flit in jubilant holy glee, 
And make heavenly minstrelsy 
To the Child their Sun, whose flow 
Bathes them His cloudlets from below . . . . 
Long shall this chimed accord be heard, 
Yet all earth hushed to His first word: 
Then shall be seen Apollo's car 
Blaze headlong like a banished star; 
And the Queen of heavenly Loves 
Dragged downward by her dying doves; 
Vulcan, spun on a wheel, shall track 
The circle of the zodiac; 
Silver Artemis be lost, 
To the polar blizzards tossed; 
Heaven shall curdle as with blood; 
The sun be swallowed in the flood; 
The universe be silent save 
For the low drone of winds that lave 
The shadowed great world's ashen sides 
As through the rustling void she glides. 
Then shall there be a whisper heard 
Of the Grave's Secret and its Word, 
Where in black silence none shall cry 
Save those who, dead-affrighted, spy 
How from the murmurous graveyeards creep 
The figures of eternal sleep. 
Last: when 'tis light men shall behold, 
Beyond the crags, a flower of gold 
Blossoming in a golden haze, 
And, while they guess Zeus' halls now blaze, 
Shall in the blossom's heart descry 
The saints of a new hierarchy! ' 

He ceased . . . and in the morning sky 
Zeus' anger threatened murmurously. 
I sped away. The lightning's sword 
Stabbed on the forest. But the word 
Abides with me. I feel its power 
Most darkly in the twilit hour, 
When Night's eternal shadow, cast 
Over earth hushed and pale and vast, 
Darkly foretells the soundless Night 
In which this orb, so green, so bright, 
Now spins, and which shall compass her 
When on her rondure nought shall stir 
But snow-whorls which the wind shall roll 
From the Equator to the Pole . . . . 
For everlastingly there is 
Something Beyond, Behind: I wis 
All Gods are haunted, and there clings, 
As hounds behind fled sheep, the things 
Beyond the Universe's ken: 
Gods haunt the Half-Gods, Half-Gods men, 
And Man the brute. Gods, born of Night 
Feel a blacker appetite 
Gape to devour them; Half-Gods dread 
But jealous Gods; and mere men tread 
Warily lest a Half-God rise 
And loose on them from empty skies 
Amazement, thunder, stark affright, 
Famine and sudden War's thick night, 
In which loud Furies hunt the Pities 
Through smoke above wrecked, flaming cities. 

For Pan, the Unknown God, rules all. 
He shall outlive the funeral, 
Change, and decay, of many Gods, 
Until he, too, lets fall his rods 
Of viewless power upon that minute 
When Universe cowers at Infinite!