Oswald Spengler Watches the Sunset

By Stephen Edgar b. 1951 Stephen Edgar
The air is drenched with day, but one by one
           The flowers close on cue,
Obedient to the declining sun.
Forest and grasses, bush and leaf and stem,
They cannot move (and nor, you dream, can you);
           It is the wind that plays with them.
Only the little midges dancing still
           Against the evening move at will.

This tiny swarm still dancing on and on
           Like something in a net
Expanding and contracting, that late swan
Towing its wake, a solitary crow
Crossing the twilight in its silhouette,
           The fox proceeding sly and slow:
They are small worlds of purpose which infuse
           The world around with will to choose.

An animalcule in a drop of dew—
           And so diminutive
That if the human eye should look clear through
That globe there would be nothing there to see—
Although it only has a blink to live,
           Yet in the face of this is free;
The oak, in whose vast foliage this dot
           Hangs from a single leaf, is not.

NOTES: Drawn from the opening pararaphs of the first chapter of VOLUME II of The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler, translated by Charles Francis Atkinson.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2010
 Stephen  Edgar


Stephen Edgar was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied classics and English at the University of Tasmania and has worked as an editor and a librarian. He is the author of the poetry collections Queuing for the Mudd Club (1985), Ancient Music (1988), Corrupted Treasures (1995), Where the Trees Were (1999), Lost in the Foreground (2003), Other Summers (2006), and History of the Day (2009).   A lyric formalist, Edgar probes the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Summer, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Poetic Terms Ottava Rima

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