Chasms of the wasted past

I posted this first last year, but it conjures such vivid images that I’m going to share it again:

This sonnet by John Masefield no doubt inspires different images for different people; somehow to me it has a sci-fi sense, distant planets wandering the universe, different civilizations rising and falling, lost continents which have disappeared. Masefield writes these sonnets when he was in his thirties, and they were published in 1915, during the first World war.

Perhaps in chasms of the wasted past,
That planet wandered within hail of ours,
And plucked men’s souls to loveliness and cast
The old, that was, away, like husks of flowers;
And made them stand erect and bade them build
Nobler than hovels plaited in the mire,
Gave them an altar and a god to gild,
Bridled the brooks for them and fettered fire;
And, in another coming, forged the steel
Which, on life’s scarlet wax, forever set
Longing for beauty bitten as a seal
That blood not clogs nor centuries forget,
That built Atlantis, and, in time will raise
That grander thing

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