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Poem by Emily Jane Pfeiffer


A Plea


I.

O YE in all the world who love true Song,
Be gentle to the singers who uplift
In innocent delight a cradle gift
So often found to work them fatal wrong.
Judge them not wholly as the tuneless throng,
But if within their instrument a rift
Be found to mar not music, give it shrift
Song justifies itself, if sweet and strong.

Song justifies itself, but they who sing,
Raining ethereal music from a height
Lonely and pure, grow strong upon the wing,
And more and more enamoured of the light;
But faint for any earthly journeying,
And fain to seek a lowly bed at night.

II.

And oh! be tenderest to the seers who lack
The wild-bird's song, the wild-bird's wing to rise
And bathe their souls in light of summer skies
Poets who gather truth with bended back,
And give forth speech of it as on the rack;
Speech urgent as the blood of grapes that dyes
His garments who must tread it out with sighs,
And ceaseless feet that follow no fair track.

Think of the manful work of those who bruise
The grape in setting free its life divine;
And if some favour they should thereby lose,
Count it no marvel that a soul should pine,
Which often for its sustenance must use
But dregs of that it pours thee forth as wine.

III.

Words that are idle with the songless crowd
Are as the poet's ripest deed, the fruit
And flower of all his working days, the suit
He weaves about his soul, which, if endowed
Too richly, and so called to ends more proud,
Builds with his breath a house of high repute,
Wherein he chants the office for the mute,
Appealing ones, who at his feet are bowed.

Yet let the Maker mould them as he will,
A spirit that he knows not to control
Works in his words beyond his utmost skill,
Making them yield his measure, and the whole
Form of his being, be it good or ill,
For no man's work is greater than his soul.

IV.

Dear soul, that cannot see thyself, nor measure
Thy fitness for the mould of Art, thy right
To cast thy dubious image, and invite
The eyes of men to take of thee their pleasure
Mark where thy Love disports herself at leisure;
Glassed in the fountain of her own delight,
Your soul will stand revealed; be sure her height
Surpasseth not the radius of her treasure.

Not Art its sovereign self claims foremost place
With those who can command the richest store
Wherewith to build a palace in its praise.
He loves Art best that loves like him of yore,
Who could not, as his song divinely says,
So love, if that he 'loved not honour more.' 



Emily Jane Pfeiffer


Emily Jane Pfeiffer's other poems:
  1. Shelley
  2. The Lost Light
  3. In the Riviera
  4. The Soudan
  5. To a Fledgling Robin


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Robert Service A Plea ("Why need we newer arms invent")

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