Summer 1982 • Vol. IV No. 3 Contemporary American Poetry |

A Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times

Thomas Tomkins, his elegy for William Lawes, 1649   And now the world you loved turns out of season,  The best of trees lies wind-blown.The King is dead. Law and law's reason     Are overthrown.     And Lawes, you are dead.Your brooding fashions, your rare melodies have fled,  Poor leaves, from Cromwell's treason. Your loyalty was to the older sadness  Of mingled song: pavans dancedWith courtly airs, grief mixed with gladness,     With elegance.     This was art's token,Which you wore gladly. But now our consorts, broken,  Plays tunes of common madness; There is no cure. Last night I dreamt a fire  Swept frozen reeds. Their harsh criesUntuned my soul, shrieks of loss, higher     Than ever I     Could bear. A voice saidWe were abandoned, even by our God, for dead.  Dear friend, that was no liar.

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