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Poem by Joyce Kilmer
(For Eleanor Rogers Cox) For blows on the fort of evil That never shows a breach, For terrible life-long races To a goal no foot can reach, For reckless leaps into darkness With hands outstretched to a star, There is jubilation in Heaven Where the great dead poets are. There is joy over disappointment And delight in hopes that were vain. Each poet is glad there was no cure To stop his lonely pain. For nothing keeps a poet In his high singing mood Like unappeasable hunger For unattainable food. So fools are glad of the folly That made them weep and sing, And Keats is thankful for Fanny Brawne And Drummond for his king. They know that on flinty sorrow And failure and desire The steel of their souls was hammered To bring forth the lyric fire. Lord Byron and Shelley and Plunkett, McDonough and Hunt and Pearse See now why their hatred of tyrants Was so insistently fierce. Is Freedom only a Will-o’-the-wisp To cheat a poet’s eye? Be it phantom or fact, it’s a noble cause In which to sing and to die! So not for the Rainbow taken And the magical White Bird snared The poets sing grateful carols In the place to which they have fared; But for their lifetime’s passion, The quest that was fruitless and long, They chorus their loud thanksgiving To the thorn-crowned Master of Song.
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