Allen Tate

(19 November 1899 - 9 February 1979 / Winchester, Kentucky)

Emblems - Poem by Allen Tate

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I
Maryland, Virginia, Caroline
Pent images in sleep
Clay valleys rocky hills old fields of pine
Unspeakable and deep

Out of that source of time my farthest blood
Runs strangely to this day
Unkempt the fathers waste in solitude
Under the hills of clay

Far from their woe fled to its thither side
To a river in Tennessee
In an alien house I will stay
Yet find their breath to be
All that my stars betide-
There some time to abide
Took wife and child with me,

II
When it is all over and the blood
Runs out, do not bury this man
By the far river (where never stood
His fathers) flowing to the West,
But take him East where life began.
my brothers, there is rest
In the depths of an eastward river
That I can understand; only
Do not think the truth we hold
I hold the slighter for this lonely
Reservation of the heart:
Men cannot live forever
But they must die forever
So take this body at sunset
To the great stream whose pulses start
In the blue hills, and let
These ashes drift from the Long Bridge
Where only a late gull breaks
That deep and populous grave.

III
By the great river the forefathers to beguile
Them, being inconceivably young, carved out
Deep hollows of memory on a river isle
Now lost-their murmur the ghost of a shout

In the hollows where the forefathers
Without beards, their faces bright and long,
Lay down at sunset by the cool river
In the tall willows amid birdsong;

And the long sleep by the cool river
They've slept full and long, till now the air
Waits twilit for their echo; the burning shiver
Of August strikes like a hawk the crouching hare.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010



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