"The Kind Embrace Of Clay"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The poetess reflects upon man's natural and binding relationship to the earth. It of the four classical elements is most absolutely a part of man's life and destiny. The other elements are only incidental to man or altogether foreign to him. "Fire, being divided from the other three,/ It lives removed, or secret at the core. . . ." Fire, a mysterious element, has no place in the composite of things. Air rejects man of its quintessence; for, though man may breathe its life-giving essence, he cannot be a part of it. Air "doth but lend its crystal to his lungs/ For his early crying, and his final song." Water "has denied/ Its child; It is no more his element." Furthermore, man "has not any part/ In the long swell of sorrow at its heart." But earth is man's and of man. Man lives from the earth, and when he dies he goes to her. The poetess, therefore, in a closing apostrophe to Earth asks her to receive and cherish her own:

Receive him as thy lover for an hour
Who will not weary, by a longer stay,
The kind embrace of clay;
Even within thine arms he is dispersed
To nothing, as at first. . . .