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Poem by Thomas Aird
Life to the kosmic ages! Lyre, Burst in blessing, high and higher, Still to Him, all to Him, Throned above the cherubim, Whose “Be” was worlds: in special grace, Father of the Thoughtful Race. From Him, in yonder ebon vault, Thee, Order, all the orbs obey. Thee, wheeling Earth: Deep hid from day, Her crystal stones of virtue fight To loyal form; caprice and fault (Arrest, or wild excrescent might,) Affirm thy sweet compulsive sway. All force, by thee, all balanced rest, Draw to the consummate Best. Soul of her song, dear mother Earth, How loves the Lyre to set thee forth! Wonder of beauty, wonder of glory! But oh thy passionate story! Yon range of peaks, a ragged saw, Far bites the suffering blue: Be purples, Lyre, to melt the awe; Be slants of sifted dew. Bring out our year: be dash divine, Be art with burnished charm.— Hold! there's wrath in yonder mine Of gloom, sulphureous bellying deep In awful stillness—out they leap, The forky jags of blue alarm! The thunder roars. The tumult proud Of broken rainbows, blocks of ruined cloud, And sunny rifts, Away it drifts,— The tumult of the glory drifts. Spirit of Man, thou mystic plant of grace, Trefoil of reason, will, and feeling, How subtle soft the Lyre thy growth revealing Up to the light of God's own face! How stern and sweet the Lyre thee, World of Man, revealing! Oil on his tongue, gifts in his hand, From foot to foot the traitor shifts his stand: Blast him, Lyre, from land to land! But true to thee the Lyre shall be,— True as thyself, great soul, to thee: Yon tender light the sun withdrawn Leaves, pledge of onward day begun; So, duty done to beauty won, Before thee is perpetual dawn. It bit the brain, it bit the brain, The loyal Sword it bit the brain: In love and fire the sister Lyre Leaps to the Sword that bit the brain,— The Sword without a stain. She makes them shine, our faces shine, The Dove she makes our faces shine: For her the Lyre is sweet desire, The Dove that makes our faces shine,— The Dove of Peace divine. Love, holy bells, nor sacramental cups, Can ease his iron stress: When Night has locked up the black wilderness, Down where the suicides lie crouches Despair. “Make ready!” something cries. The owl, his weird to-whoo he plies; Blurred through the rotten air, Wink the corpse-candles blue; The doleful trees obeisance do; The shuddering ground is fealty to Despair. With Death and Hell he sups. Lord of Renewal, touch his haggard eyes! Weary slow, dreary low, Wails the Lyre to Night and Wo,— Wails to Winter, Night, and Wo. Up she laughs to Hope benign; Lilies, young saints of dew; Larks in the blue; Maidens a-milking of the sweet-breathed kine; All so sunny; Combs of honey, Oil and apples, wheat and wine: And love is still the joy divine. The stern for kin, still win us, Lyre, with forms, Sweetly relieved, of loveliness: Far silvery twilights eddying in the stress Of mountain storms; Slow-wheeling birds, blue silent air, Round shattered summits black and bare; Fierce day gone out, in dew to leave Soft reconciling eve; Wild frame-work on the battlements of gloom; Isles from the worm; flowers from the tomb; New light to life, as aye of Shades below Solemn reverberations come and go. Tickling the spleen, her fancies play; Her satire, with incisive tooth, Bites to the heart of truth; She flames on Wrong; she rends the keeps Where Innocence in iron sleeps; From land to land the Lyre is Freedom's day. The sum of Nature's forces? What! Our God and Father only that? How bursts the Lyre, love-wroth! Down reels The godhead of the Positive wheels: From land to land the Lyre is Heavenly day. “A flash through the tears that would save, A dash through the vapours of strife, That leap from the grave to the grave Which they, the poor leapers, call life!” No, child unsummed! Draw, Lyre, for Man, Solemn and slow, Life's vast evolving plan: Words die not, acts Are more than facts: All things of our related time, Down to the smallest seeds of circumstance, From birth to birth advance, From world to world, eternal and sublime. Law thus of Life, Beneath—Above! Be type and pledge, thou Plant of Love. In the midst of the Garden of Purposes, (Tell, wondering Lyre) the Plant of Love, Plant of Renown, Its root deep down In the Promise to bruise the Serpent's head, Sprung; up it grew, strong up it grew Through Sinai's fire and Hermon's dew, Prickly with warning, law, decree; And, still to its root of Promise true, (O Heaven and Earth, that passionate hour!) Bursting as it wept and bled, Flowered into Christianity. O Cross-shaped Flower, our Passion-flower! O Flower of Love to beautify and bless!
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