mon semblable, mon frère
Our epoch takes a voluptuous satisfaction
In that perspective of the action
Which pictures us inhabiting the end
Of everything with death for only friend.
Not that we love death,
Not truly, not the fluttering breath,
The obscene shudder of the finished act—
What the doe feels when the ultimate fact
Tears at her bowels with its jaws.
Our taste is for the opulent pause
Before the end comes. If the end is certain
All of us are players at the final curtain:
All of us, silence for a time deferred,
Find time before us for one sad last word.
Victim, rebel, convert, stoic—
Every role but the heroic—
We turn our tragic faces to the stalls
To wince our moment till the curtain falls.
A world ends when its metaphor has died.
An age becomes an age, all else beside,
When sensuous poets in their pride invent
Emblems for the soul’s consent
That speak the meanings men will never know
But man-imagined images can show:
It perishes when those images, though seen,
No longer mean.
A world was ended when the womb
Where girl held God became the tomb
Where God lies buried in a man:
Botticelli’s image neither speaks nor can
To our kind. His star-guided stranger
Teaches no longer, by the child, the manger,
The meaning of the beckoning skies.
Sophocles, when his reverent actors rise
To play the king with bleeding eyes,
No longer shows us on the stage advance
God’s purpose in the terrible fatality of chance.
No woman living, when the girl and swan
Embrace in verses, feels upon
Her breast the awful thunder of that breast
Where God, made beast, is by the blood confessed.
Empty as conch shell by the waters cast
The metaphor still sounds but cannot tell,
And we, like parasite crabs, put on the shell
And drag it at the sea’s edge up and down.
This is the destiny we say we own.
But are we sure
The age that dies upon its metaphor
Among these Roman heads, these mediaeval towers,
Or ours the ending of that story?
The meanings in a man that quarry
Images from blinded eyes
And white birds and the turning skies
To make a world of were not spent with these
The journey of our history has not ceased:
Earth turns us still toward the rising east,
The metaphor still struggles in the stone,
The allegory of the flesh and bone
Still stares into the summer grass
That is its glass,
The ignorant blood
Still knocks at silence to be understood.
Poets, deserted by the world before,
Turn round into the actual air:
Invent the age! Invent the metaphor!
Archibald MacLeish's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Hypocrite Auteur by Archibald MacLeish )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
(1207 - 1273)
- Mark Strand
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Winter Solstice, Jacqueline C Nash
- A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
- Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
Poem of the Day
- Bipolar, Michael P. McParland
- An Interior Waltz, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Better, Michael P. McParland
- Believe It Or Not, Michael P. McParland
- Bedtime Sweet Lady, Michael P. McParland
- PH: Echo: Bifurcated Brian, Brian Johnston
- Another Soul, Ronald Chapman
- Bed Time My Love, Michael P. McParland
- Bed Time 2, Michael P. McParland
- Bed Time, Michael P. McParland