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Vachel Lindsay - On Reading Omar Khayyam

[During an anti-saloon campaign, in central Illinois.]


In the midst of the battle I turned, 
(For the thunders could flourish without me) 
And hid by a rose-hung wall, 
Forgetting the murder about me; 
And wrote, from my wound, on the stone, 
In mirth, half prayer, half play:  
"Send me a picture book, 
Send me a song, to-day." 

I saw him there by the wall 
When I scarce had written the line, 
In the enemy's colors dressed 
And the serpent-standard of wine 
Writhing its withered length 
From his ghostly hands o'er the ground, 
And there by his shadowy breast 
The glorious poem I found. 

This was his world-old cry: 
Thus read the famous prayer: 
"Wine, wine, wine and flowers 
And cup-bearers always fair!" 
'Twas a book of the snares of earth 
Bordered in gold and blue, 
And I read each line to the wind 
And read to the roses too: 
And they nodded their womanly heads 
And told to the wall just why 
For wine of the earth men bleed, 
Kingdoms and empires die. 
I envied the grape stained sage: 
(The roses were praising him.) 
The ways of the world seemed good 
And the glory of heaven dim. 
I envied the endless kings 
Who found great pearls in the mire, 
Who bought with the nation's life 
The cup of delicious fire. 

But the wine of God came down, 
And I drank it out of the air. 
(Fair is the serpent-cup, 
But the cup of God more fair.) 
The wine of God came down 
That makes no drinker to weep. 
And I went back to battle again 
Leaving the singer asleep.

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Added: Jun 15 2005 | Viewed: 2039 times | Comments and analysis of On Reading Omar Khayyam by Vachel Lindsay Comments (0)

On Reading Omar Khayyam - Comments and Information

Poet: Vachel Lindsay
Poem: On Reading Omar Khayyam
Poem of the Day: Dec 13 2007
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