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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

For Adelaide

WHO is the Poet? He who sings
Of high, abstruse, and hidden things,--
Or rather he who with a liberal voice
Does with the glad hearts of all earth rejoice?
O sweetest Singer! rather would I be
Gifted with thy kind human melody,
Than weave mysterious rhymes and such as seem
Born in the dim depths of some sage's dream.
But I have no such art; they will not choose
The utterance of my harsh ungenial muse
For any cradle chant; I shall not aid
The mournful mother or the loving maid
To find relief in song. I shall not be
Placed side by side, O Poet dear, with thee

In any grateful thoughts, yet be it known
By all who read how much thou hast mine own!
When, with bent brow and all too anxious heart,
I walk with hurrying step the crowded mart,
And look abroad on men with faithless eyes,
Then do sweet snatches of thy song arise,
And float into my heart like melodies
Down dropping from the far blue deeps of heaven,
Or sweet bells wafted over fields at even.
Therefore, if thanks for any gifts be due,
If any service be esteemèd true,
If any virtues do to verse belong,
Take thou the Poet's name, by right of song!
Suffer that I, who never yet did give
False words to that dear art by which I live,
Pluck down bright bay-leaves from the eternal tree,
And place them where they have true right to be!

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. Rome
  2. Firelight
  3. Up the River
  4. The Old Chateau
  5. On a Group of Justice and Charity

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