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Poem by Lewis Morris
OH ! sometimes when the solemn organ rolls Its stream of sound down gray historic aisles ; Or the full, high-pitched struggling symphony Pursues the fleeting melody in vain : Like a fawn through shadowy groves, or heroine Voiced like a lark, pours out in burning song Her love or grief; or when, to the rising stars Linked village maidens chant the hymn of eve ; Or Sabbath concourse, flushed and dewy-eyed Booms its full bass ; or before tasks begun, Fresh childish voices sanctify the morn : My eyes grow full, my heart forgets to beat. What is this mystic yearning fills my being ? Hark ! the low music wakes, and soft and slow Wanders at will through flowery fields of sound ; Climbs gentle hills, and sinks in sunny vales, And stoops to cull sweet way-side blooms, and weaves A dainty garland ; then, grown tired, casts down With careless hand the fragrant coronal, And child-like sings itself to sleep. Anon The loud strain rises like a strong knight armed, Battling with wrong ; or passionate seer of God Scathing with tongue of fire the hollow shows, The vain deceits of men ; or law-giver, Parting in thunder from the burning hill With face aflame j or with fierce rush of wings And blazing brand, upon the crest of Sin, The swift archangel swooping ; or the roll Which follows on the lightning ; all are there In that great hurry of sound. And then the voice Grows thinner like a lark's, and soars and soars, And mounts in circles, higher, higher, higher, Up to heaven's gate, and lo I the unearthly song Thrills some fine inner chord, and the swift soul, Eager and fluttering like a prisoned bird, Breaks from its cage, and soars aloft to join The enfranchised sound, and for a moment seems To touch on some dim border-land of being, Full of high thought and glorious enterprise And vague creative fancies, till at length Waxed grosser than the thin ethereal air, It sinks to earth again. And then a strain Sober as is the tender voice of home, Unbroken like a gracious life, and lo Young children sit around me, and the love I never knew is mine, and so my eyes Grow full, and all my being is thrilled with tears. What is this strange new life, this finer sense, This passionate exaltation, which doth' force Like the weird Indian juggler, instantly My soul from seed to flower, from flower to fruit, Which lifts me out of self, and bids me tread Without a word, on dim aerial peaks, Impossible else, and rise to glorious thoughts, High hopes, and inarticulate fantasies Denied to soberer hours ? No spoken thought Of bard or seer can mount so far, or lift The soul to such transcendent heights, or work So strong a spell of love, or roll along Such passionate troubled depths. No painter's hand Can limn so clear, the luminous air serene Of Paradise, the halcyon deep, the calm Of the eternal snows, the eddy and whirl Of mortal fight, the furious flood let loose From interlacing hills, the storm which glooms Over the shoreless sea. Our speech too oft Is bound and fettered by such narrow laws, That words which to one nation pierce the heart, To another are but senseless sounds, or weak And powerless to stir the soul ; but this Speaks with a common tongue, uses a speech Which all may understand, or if it bear Some seeds of difference in it, only such As separates gracious sisters, like in form, But one by gayer fancies touched, and one Rapt by sweet graver thoughts alone, and both Mighty to reach the changing moods of the soul, Or grave or gay, and though sometimes they be Mated with unintelligible words, Or feeble and unworthy, yet can lend A charm to gild the worthless utterance, And wing the sordid chrysalis to float Amid the shining stars. Oh strange sweet power, Ineffable, oh gracious influence, I know not whence thou art, but this I know. Thou boldest in thy hand the silver key That can unlock the sacred fount of tears, Which falling make life green ; the hidden spring Of purer fancies and high sympathies ; No mirth is thine, thou art too high for mirth, Like Him who wept but 'smiled not *, mirth is born On the low plains of thoughts bes' reached by words. But those who scale the untrodden mountain peak, Or sway upon the trembling spire, are far From laughter ; so thy gracious power divine, Not sad but solemn, stirs the well of tears, But not mirth's shallow spring : tears are divine, But mirth is of the earth, a creature born Of careless youth and joyance ; satisfied With that which is ; parched by no nobler thirst For that which might be ; pained by no regret For that which was, but is not : but for thee. Oh, fair mysterious power, the whole great scheme Lies open like a book ; and if the charm Of its high beauty makes thee sometimes gay, Yet 'tis an awful joy, so mixed with thought, That even Mirth grows grave, and evermore The myriad possibilities unfulfilled, The problem of Creation, the immense Impenetrable depths of thought, the vague Perplexities of being, touch thy lips And keep thee solemn always. Oh, fair voice, Oh virginal, sweet interpreter, reveal Our inner selves to us, lay bare the springs, The hidden depths of life, the high desires Which lurk there unsuspected, the remorse Which never woke before ; unclothe the soul Of this its shroud of sense, and let it mount, On the harmonious beat of thy light wings, Up to those heights where life is so attuned, So pure and self-concordant ; filled so deep With such pervading beauty that no voice Mars the unheard ineffable harmony, And o'er white plain and breathless summit reigns A silence sweeter than the sweetest sound.
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