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Cri du Cœur 

Shannon Rainey

Every great Romantic poet contemplated the sublime,    

wishing to capture    

that which is uncapturable: beauty and terror    

to inspire great admiration, to inspire faith   

in a Creator. Wordsworth wrote    

“it takes its origin from emotion recollected    

in tranquility.” Shelley and Byron focused on the terror    

and ecstasy in nature. Coleridge considered only a few things    


the boundless sea and sky are two.    

To him, sublime meant infinity.   

I define it differently.    

It is not craggy ice-covered granite peaks, or endless fields    

of aster and gentian and bellflower    

or thunderous rivers that tumble and roar    

down mountainsides, or birds singing aubades    

with the rising sun, or the roiling green of a raging sea.    

It is the alpenglow that warms your cheeks,    

your ephemeral smile and rainwashed skin,    

your bitter chocolate eyes that make me melt    

like a spontaneous Easter snow. It’s...    

époustouflant, the evergreen fog   

settling on the hills around us, leaving us    

marooned in our own supernal world.    

It is the terror, the dread of having your spirit parted    

from mine, la douleur exquise of wanting.   

I believe in God when I am with you.  

Spring 2021

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