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Richard Watson Gilder (Ричард Уотсон Гилдер)

The Sonnet

(In Answer to a Question)

WHAT is a sonnet? 'T is the pearly shell
    That murmurs of the far-off murmuring sea; 
    A precious jewel carved most curiously; 
    It is a little picture painted well. 
What is a sonnet? 'T is the tear that fell
    From a great poet's hidden ecstacy; 
    A two-edged sword, a star, a song--ah me! 
    Sometimes a heavy-tolling funeral bell. 
This was the flame that shook with Dante's breath;
    The solemn organ whereon Milton played, 
    And the clear glass where Shakespeare's shadow falls: 
A sea this is--beware who ventureth!
    For like a fjord the narrow floor is laid 
    Deep as mid-ocean to the sheer mountain walls. 

Richard Watson Gilder's other poems:
  1. On the Bay
  2. An Hour in a Studio

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