To A Contemner Of The Past

A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

You that would break with the Past,
Why with so rude a gesture take your leave?
None hinders, go your way; but wherefore cast
Contempt and boorish scorn
Upon the womb from which even you were born?
Begone in peace! Forbear to flout and grieve,
Vulgar iconoclast,
Those of a faith you cannot comprehend,
To whom the Past is as a lovely friend
Nobly grown old, yet nobly ever young;
The temple and the treasure-house of Time,
With gains immortal stored
Of dream and deed and song,
Since man from chaos first began to climb,
His lonely soul for sword.

O base and trivial tongue
That dares to mock this solemn heritage,
And foul this sacred page!
Sorry the future that hath you for sire!
And happy we who yet
Can bear the golden chimes from tower and spire
In the old heaven set,
And link our hands and hearts with the great dead
That lived with God for friend,
And drew strange sustenance from overhead,
And knew a bright beginning in life's end;
For all their earthly days
Were filled with meaning deeper than the hour.

Leave us our simple faith in star and flower,
And all our simple ways
Of prayer and praise,
And ancient virtues of humility,
Honour and reverence and the bended knee,
Old tenderness and gracious courtesies,
From Time so hardly won:
But you that no more have content in these,
From out our sanctuaries
Begone - and gladly gone!

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