Ode To Fear

written by

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Variation on a Theme by Collins

Let the day glare: O memory, your tread
Beats to the pulse of suffocating night-
Night peering from his dark but fire-lit head
Burns on the day his tense and secret light.

Now they dare not to gloss your savage dream,
O beast of the heart, those saints who cursed your name;
You are the current of the frozen stream,
Shadow invisible, ambushed and vigilant flame.

My eldest companion present in solitude,
Watch-dog of Thebes when the blind hero strove:
You, omniscient, at the cross-roads stood
When Laius, the slain dotard, drenched the grove.

Now to the eye of prophecy immune,
Fading and harried, you stalk us in the street
From the recesses of the August noon,
Alert world over, crouched on the air's feet.

You are our surety to immortal life,
God's hatred of the universal stain-
The heritage, O Fear, of ancient strife
Compounded with the tissue of the vein.

And I when all is said have seen your form
Most agile and most treacherous to the world
When, on a child's long day, a dry storm
Burst on the cedars, lit by the sun and hurled!

© Allen Tate