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Don Marquis (1878-1937)

Breath


              1We are the shaken slaves of Breath:
              2For logic leaves the race unstirred;
              3But cadence, and the vibrant word,
              4Are lords of life, are lords of death.

              5Not facts nor reasons absolute
              6May touch the crowd's composite soul,
              7But rhythm, and the drum's long roll,
              8The orator, the arrowy flute.

              9The gods mixed music with our clay
            10Rune-giving Odin, Krishna, Pan,
            11Move in the running blood of man,
            12His tidal moods they mete and sway.

            13Song more endures than steel or stone .
            14Sandalled with magic syllables
            15We glide like shades through shadowy hells,
            16Or soar to heaven on a tone.

Notes

10] Odin: Norse god, Woden the creator. Krishna: the Hindu god of fire and the incarnation of Vishnu. Pan: Roman god of shepherds and inventor of the flute.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Don Marquis, The Awakening and Other Poems (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1925): 62. PS 3525 A797 A94 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/7/5

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Don Marquis