Two Choruses from “Merlin in Broceliande”
I. Life, what art thou? Springing water art thou: When the waters flash and spring, life, start thou! When the spirit burns within the chapels The stones are quick with faith. When the branch hangs out its reddened apples The tree is strong with breath; When love’s womb conceives the stirring blossom The heart is full of power; When youth leaps in the darkness of the bosom The body is in flower. When the fiery spirit deserts the chapels, Bury religion’s corse; When the branch no more puts forth its apples, Fell the tree at the source; When love feeds itself and not its blossom The heart’s core withereth; When youth makes no movement in the bosom The body is signed to death. Life, what art thou? A golden fountain art thou: When the fountain springs not, life, depart thou! II. First Voices. Saw ye the stars last night, all still, Remote, and bitter-cold, Who were too passionless to thrill, Being so wise and old? Second Voices. O saw ye not one star alight, A leap of silver fire, Did ye not see it sear the night And die of its own desire? First Voices. Saw ye the ancient stars look on Locked in a chilly dream Which banished the awakened one Beyond their frozen scheme? Second Voices. O saw ye not the ashen band Fade in the morning-gold, Who long had ceased to understand, Being so bitter-old? All the Voices. Ye petrified on heavenly thrones, Was there not chaos once? Ye did not keep your ordered zones When ye were raging suns! Once flaming rivers were your breath And the wild hairs of your brow-- Once ye were life, once ye were death! Ye are not either now.
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