Verse > Padraic Colum > Anthology of Irish Verse
Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  Anthology of Irish Verse.  1922.
145. Nepenthe
By George Darley
O BLEST unfabled Incense Tree,
That burns in glorious Araby,
With red scent chalicing the air,
Till earth-life grow Elysian there!
Half buried to her flaming breast        5
In this bright tree she makes her nest,
Hundred-sunned Phœnix! when she must
Crumble at length to hoary dust;
Her gorgeous death-bed, her rich pyre
Burnt up with aromatic fire;        10
Her urn, sight-high from spoiler men,
Her birthplace when self-born again.
The mountainless green wilds among,
Here ends she her unechoing song:
With amber tears and odorous sighs        15
Mourned by the desert where she dies.
Robert Bridges makes this note upon “Nepenthe”: “The Phoenix personifies the earth life of sun-joys, i.e., the joys of the sense. She is sprung of the Sun and is killed by the Sun. It is of the essence of sun-joys to be, in their sphere, as eternal as their cause; and their personification is without ambition to transcend them. The Phoenix is melancholy as well as glad; the sun-joys would not be melancholy if they did not perish in the using: but they are ever created anew. Their inherent melancholy would awaken ambition in the spirit of man. In the last stanza Mountainless means ‘void of ambition,’ and unechoing means ‘awakening no spiritual echoes.’”


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