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Over the Brazier by Robert Graves
In my childhood rumors ran
   Of a world beyond our doorβ€”
Terrors to the life of man
   That the highroad held in store.

Of mermaids' doleful game
   In deep water I heard tell,
Of lofty dragons belching flame,
   Of the hornΓ¨d fiend of Hell.

Tales like these were too absurd
   For my laughter-loving ear:
Soon I mocked at all I heard,
   Though with cause indeed for fear.

Now I know the mermaid kin
   I find them bound by natural laws:
They have neither tail nor fin,
   But are deadlier for that cause.

Dragons have no darting tongues,
   Teeth saw-edged, nor rattling scales;
No fire issues from their lungs,
   No black poison from their tails:

For they are creatures of dark air,
   Unsubstantial tossing forms,
Thunderclaps of man's despair
   In mid-whirl of mental storms.

And there's a true and only fiend
   Worse than prophets prophesy,
Whose full powers to hurt are screened
   Lest the race of man should die.

Ever in vain will courage plot
   The dragon's death, in coat of proof;
Or love abjure the mermaid grot;
   Or faith denounce the cloven hoof.

Mermaids will not be denied
   The last bubbles of our shame,
The Dragon flaunts an unpierced hide,
   The true fiend governs in God's name.
Book: Over the Brazier by Robert Graves
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