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The Masque of the Elements   By: (1878-1927)

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[Note: This text contains many words with archaic spelling, which I have not modernized. Also, while the first word of each poem is usually capitalized, not all of them are, and I have left the uncapitalized words as is. Finally, in the original text, the verse was printed with regular type, while the prose was italicized. I have not indicated these differences for this online version.]

THE MASQUE OF THE ELEMENTS BY HERMAN SCHEFFAUER

LONDON: J. M. Dent & Sons, Limited Bedford Street, Strand 1912 New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.

All rights reserved

TO MY DEAR FRIEND ALBERT M. BENDER

CONTENTS

ARGUMENT 9

THE PASSING

Song of the Spirit of Chaos 14 Song of the Sun 16 Song of the Planet Earth 18 Song of the Moon Wraith 20 Song of Earth the Element 22 Song of Air 24 Song of the Sea 26 Song of Fire 28 Song of the Spirit of Chaos 31

RE BIRTH

Song of the Spirit of Creation 37 Song of the Sun 39 Song of the Planet Earth 41 Song of the Moon 43 Song of Air 45 Song of the Sea 47 Song of Earth the Element 48 Song of Fire 51 Song of the Spirit of Creation 55

ARGUMENT

In this Threnody and Birth song of the Elements, written in California some five years ago, I have striven to capture and present some of the chief factors and phases of the eternal drama of Life and Death in the Universe. These powers, elements and agents I have endowed with human attributes and human emotions as though it were Man himself who uttered himself through them.

The actors in this cosmic masque or pageant of the planets are the Sun, the Moon and the Earth with her four Elements; for stage there is the limitless background of Time and Space, and the audience may be conceived as being represented by Immanent Nature. Creation and Dissolution are her ministers, twin forces of that divine everlasting Energy which brings to pass the cycles of the Eternal Recurrence.

The action takes its course with a certain regard for the laws and revelations of Science, but this compliance is only such as poetry need observe. Despite the inherent and mystic majesty of Matter, too commonly reviled! fantasy must have leave, in such a work, to force its way past the barrier of facts or to reshape them to its needs.

Whether the action begin with the impulse of Dissolution or with that of Creation does not in any way affect the essentials of the plan. The alternations of Life and Death, of Cosmic Night and Day, must inevitably follow and destroy each other, like the serpents in the ancient symbol. Yet I thought it desirable to end this work with the larger and salient note of hope and joy that rings out of the Birth that is Re birth rather than with the Passing which is but a recurrent preparation for that Birth.

HERMAN SCHEFFAUER. London, 1911.

THE PASSING

The song of the Spirit of Chaos is heard on high above the aged Solar Universe.

The Sun hangs in the black wastes below. His dazzling beams are shorn away. He glows, but dimly, like an ember, with a red and smouldering heat.

In their concentric rounds lie poised the planets, like weary winged cup bearers, circling about their sleepless lord.

His fire, dull with death, wavers across their dim faces, even unto dusky Uranus and lowering Neptune in the cold, outermost rings.

In the dark, all surrounding void new constellations gleam on the thrones of the heavens. The old are changed, deposed or dead.

Their figures, unfixed in the abyss, have been shifted like errant sands of Earth.

The spirit of Chaos, from her uncharted tracts, summons her ministrant powers of Death and Change. She beholds them blight the worlds. Her presence enfolds destroyers and destroyed as with a cloak.

The dusks and damps of dissolution spread out their lethal and invisible wings... Continue reading book >>




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