Friday, 17 February 2012

Hunger of hopeless things

This poem by Robert Louis Stevenson has the wonderful title 'After Reading Antony and Cleopatra'. I can't say that play in particular has ever filled me with 'objectless desire', but I certainly recognise the feeling; it's somewhat akin to Rupert Brooke's 'longing for dim hills/And faint horizons'.

As when the hunt by holt and field
Drives on with horn and strife,
Hunger of hopeless things pursues
Our spirits throughout life.

The sea's roar fills us aching full
Of objectless desire -
The sea's roar, and the white moon-shine,
And the reddening of the fire.

Who talks to me of reason now?
It would be more delight
To have died in Cleopatra's arms
Than be alive to-night.

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