Richard Henry Stoddard

Triumphant Music

AY, give me music! Flood the air with sound!
But let it be superb, and brave, and high,
Not such as leaves my wild ambition bound
In soft delights, but lifts it to the sky.
No sighs, nor tears, but deep, indignant calm,
And scorn of all but strength, my only need;
From whence but Music should my strength proceed?
From some Titanic psalm?
Some thunderous strand of sound, which it its roll
Shall lift to starry heights my fiery soul!

Strike on the noisy drum, and let the fife
Scream like a tortured soul in pain intense,
But let the trumpet brood above their strife,
Victorious in its calm magnificence.
Nor fear to wake again the golden lute,
That runs along my quivering nerves like fire;
Nor let the silver-chorded lyre be mute,
But bring the tender lyre,
For sweetness with all strength should wedded be,
But bring the strength, the sweetness dwells in me!

Play on! play on! The strain is fit to feed
A feast of Gods, in banquet-halls divine;
Not one would taste the cups of Ganymede,
But only drink this more ambrosial wine!
Play on! play on! The secret Soul of Sound
Unfolds itself at every cunning turn;
The trumpet lifts its shield, a stormy round,
The lute its dewy urn,
But in the lyre, the wild and passionate lyre,
Lies all its might, its madness and desire!

Again! again! And let the rattling drum
Begin to roll, and let the bugle blow,
Like winter winds, when woods are stark and dumb,
Shouting above a wilderness of snow.
Pour hail and lightning from the fife and lyre,
And let the trumpet pile its clouds of doom;
But I o'ertop them with a darker plume,
And beat my wings of fire;
Not like a struggling eagle baffled there,
But like a Spirit on a throne of air!

In vain! in vain! We only soar to sink,
Though Music gives us wings, we sink at last;
The peaks of rapture topple near the brink
Of Death, or Madness pallid and aghast.
But still play on, you rapt musicians, play!
But now a softer and serener strain;
Give me a dying fall, that lives again,
Again to die away.
Play on! but softly till my breath grows deep,
And Music leaves me in the arms of Sleep!

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