I Met A Man

A poem by Thomas Hardy

I met a man when night was nigh,
Who said, with shining face and eye
Like Moses' after Sinai:-

"I have seen the Moulder of Monarchies,
Realms, peoples, plains and hills,
Sitting upon the sunlit seas! -
And, as He sat, soliloquies
Fell from Him like an antiphonic breeze
That pricks the waves to thrills.

"Meseemed that of the maimed and dead
Mown down upon the globe, -
Their plenteous blooms of promise shed
Ere fruiting-time - His words were said,
Sitting against the western web of red
Wrapt in His crimson robe.

"And I could catch them now and then:
- 'Why let these gambling clans
Of human Cockers, pit liege men
From mart and city, dale and glen,
In death-mains, but to swell and swell again
Their swollen All-Empery plans,

"'When a mere nod (if my malign
Compeer but passive keep)
Would mend that old mistake of mine
I made with Saul, and ever consign
All Lords of War whose sanctuaries enshrine
Liberticide, to sleep?

"'With violence the lands are spread
Even as in Israel's day,
And it repenteth me I bred
Chartered armipotents lust-led
To feuds . . . Yea, grieves my heart, as then I said,
To see their evil way!'

- "The utterance grew, and flapped like flame,
And further speech I feared;
But no Celestial tongued acclaim,
And no huzzas from earthlings came,
And the heavens mutely masked as 'twere in shame
Till daylight disappeared."

Thus ended he as night rode high -
The man of shining face and eye,
Like Moses' after Sinai.

1916.

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