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Poem by Lewis Morris


On a Young Poet


HERE lay him down in peace to take his rest,
Who tired of singing ere the day was done.
A little time, a little, beneath the sun,
He tarried and gave forth his artless song;
The bird that sings with the dawn, sings not for long,
Only when dew is on the grass his breast
Thrills, but his voice is silent long ere noon.
So sang he once, but might not long sustain
The high pure note of youth, for soon, too soon !
He ceased to know the sweet creative pain
Made still one voice, amid the clamorous strife,
And proved no more the joys or pains of life.

And better so than that his voice should fail,
And sink to earth, and lose its heavenlier tone ;
Perchance, if he had stayed, the sad world's moan,
The long low discord of incessant wrong,
Had marred the perfect cadence of his song,
And made a grosser music to prevail.
But now it falls as pure upon the ear,
As sings the brown bird to the star of eve,
Or child's voice in grey minster quiring clear.
Rather then, give we thanks for him than grieve;
Thoughts of pure joys which but in memory live,
More joy than lower present joys can give.

For him, deep rest or high spontaneous strains ;
For us, fierce strife and low laborious song;
For him, truth's face shining out clear and strong ;
For us, half lights, thick clouds, and darkling days.
No longer walks his soul in mortal ways,
Nor thinks our thoughts, nor feels our joys or pains,
Nor doubts our doubts, nor any more pursues,
Knowing all things, the far-off searchless cause ;
Nor thrills with art, or nature's fairest hues,
Gazing on absolute beauty's inmost laws;
Or lies for ever sunk in dreamless sleep,
Nor recks of us ; and therefore 'tis we weep.

But surely if he sleep, some fair faint dream,
Some still small whisper from his ancient home,
Not joy, nor pain, but mixt of each shall come ;
Or if he wake, the thought of earthly clays
Shall add a tender sweetness to his praise ;
Tempering the unbroken joyance of his theme.
And by-and-by the time shall come when we,
Laden with all our lives, once more shall meet,
Like friends, who after infinite wastes of sea,
Look in each other's eyes ; and lo ! the sweet
Sad fount of memory to its depths is stirred,
And the past lives again, without a word.

Mourn not for him ! perchance he lends his voice
To swell the fulness of the eternal psalm ;
Or haply, wrapt in nature's holy calm,
As lurks the seed within the vital earth,
He quickens surely to a higher birth.
Mourn not for him ! but let your souls rejoice.
We know not what we shall be, but are sure
The spark once kindled by the Eternal breath,
Goes not out quite, but somewhere doth endure
In that strange life we blindly christen death.
Somewhere he is, though where we can' not tell ;
But wheresoe'er God hides him, it is well. 



                      Lewis Morris


Lewis Morris's other poems:
  1. A Cynic's Day-Dream
  2. The Reply
  3. The Living Past
  4. A Yorkshire River
  5. On an Old Minster


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