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Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.

The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo

The Leaden Echo

How to kéep—is there ány any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, láce, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, … from vanishing away?
Ó is there no frowning of these wrinkles, rankéd wrinkles deep,
Dówn? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?

No there ’s none, there ’s none, O no there ’s none,
Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,
Do what you may do, what, do what you may,
And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay
Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,
Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there ’s none; no no no there ’s none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair,
Despair, despair, despair, despair.

The Golden Echo

Not within the singeing of the strong sun,
Tall sun’s tingeing, or treacherous the tainting of the earth’s air,
Somewhere elsewhere there is ah well where! one,
Oné. Yes I can tell such a key, I do know such a place,
Where whatever’s prized and passes of us, everything that ’s fresh and fast flying of us, seems to us sweet of us and swiftly away with, done away with, undone,

Undone, done with, soon done with, and yet dearly and dangerously sweet
Of us, the wimpled-water-dimpled, not-by-morning-matchèd face,
The flower of beauty, fleece of beauty, too too apt to, ah! to fleet,
Never fleets móre, fastened with the tenderest truth
To its own best being and its loveliness of youth: it is an everlastingness of, O it is an all youth!

Come then, your ways and airs and looks, locks, maiden gear, gallantry and gaiety and grace,
Winning ways, airs innocent, maiden manners, sweet looks, loose locks, long locks, lovelocks, gaygear, going gallant, girlgrace—
Resign them, sign them, seal them, send them, motion them with breath,
And with sighs soaring, soaring síghs deliver
Them; beauty-in-the-ghost, deliver it, early now, long before death
Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.

See; not a hair is, not an eyelash, not the least lash lost; every hair
Is, hair of the head, numbered.
Nay, what we had lighthanded left in surly the mere mould
Will have waked and have waxed and have walked with the wind what while we slept,
This side, that side hurling a heavyheaded hundredfold
What while we, while we slumbered.

O then, weary then why
When the thing we freely fórfeit is kept with fonder a care,
Fonder a care kept than we could have kept it, kept
Far with fonder a care (and we, we should have lost it) finer, fonder
A care kept.—Where kept? Do but tell us where kept, where.—
Yonder.—What high as that! We follow, now we follow.—
Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Casey Klahn August 12, 2018, 8:42 PM

    Hearing the verses of Golden and Leaden Echo…I told you you were a Modernist.

  • ghostsniper August 13, 2018, 4:39 AM

    Ghost Moose?

    Grace Kelly, you can’t have too much. oh-em-gee

    Put a geode or rock in your birdbaths, give the smaller creatures a way to escape if they fall in.

  • ROBERT SYKES August 13, 2018, 4:53 AM

    This by a 19th Century Catholic priest. It is one of the most extraordinary poems I have ever read or heard. The speed, the repetition, diction, imagery. And then, Richard Burton, the greatest actor of his age (no, not Olivier), reciting it at the funeral of his lost love Elizabeth, lost and gained and lost so many time.

    The other poem this always reminds me of is Ginzburg’s “Howl,” a poem of despair and loss. It should be read quickly, rapidly. I have never heard it recited, but then who is there to recite a poem about gay love.

    A quibble: the picture should have been a very young Elizabeth Taylor. You repeat things, almost always great things like this, which should be repeated. Next time, use Elizabeth.

  • ghostsniper August 13, 2018, 10:02 AM

    I admit, from National Velvet through Cleopatra, Elizabeth was absolutely stunning, but not long after she morphed into a ghastly spectacle that should have just went away. I didn’t need to see her like that. When I think of her now I think of her as the former.

  • RigelDog August 13, 2018, 10:23 AM

    Thank you for your attention to this poem, and your thoughts on it Gerard. It’s changed my life for the better, as I struggle with gracefully surrendering the beauty God initially graced me with. Giving it all back to Him, tenderly, with loving thanks.

  • AbigailAdams August 13, 2018, 11:05 AM

    Thank you, Gerard. Of every moment I can remember of my life so far, being moved to tears over beauty and goodness are the sharpest and most cherished. A small taste of Heaven?

  • rabbit tobacco August 13, 2018, 2:43 PM

    life is like a herd of purple antelope,grazing over a field of tuna fish.

  • John the River August 13, 2018, 8:50 PM

    Well, I really thought someone else would have corrected the statement of Mr. Sykes about Richard Burton reciting anything at ET’s funeral. He predeceased her by about thirty years.

    But his spirit lives on.

  • Callmelennie August 13, 2018, 9:15 PM

    Missed some important lines at the very end, G (am I cool , or what?)

    O then, weary then why ..… should we tread? Oh why are we so haggard at heart, so care -coiled, so care killed, so fagged, so fashed, so cogged, so coiled ….. when the thing we freely forfeit

    (That last segment is jaw dropping, BTW. A tour de force)

  • Anonymous August 14, 2018, 10:17 AM

    Of every moment I can remember of my life so far, being moved to tears over beauty and goodness are the sharpest and most cherished. A small taste of Heaven? >>>

    C.S. Lewis certainly thought so, as he details in Surprised by Joy. I have often felt the same way and was heartened to learn that there’s a name for this in Christianity. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the Gift of Tears when confronted by something of the Divine.