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Poem by Sidney Lanier
In o’er-strict calyx lingering, Lay music’s bud too long unblown, Till thou, Beethoven, breathed the spring: Then bloomed the perfect rose of tone. O Psalmist of the weak, the strong, O Troubadour of love and strife, Co-Litanist of right and wrong, Sole Hymner of the whole of life, I know not how, I care not why, -- Thy music sets my world at ease, And melts my passion’s mortal cry In satisfying symphonies. It soothes my accusations sour ’Gainst thoughts that fray the restless soul: The stain of death; the pain of power; The lack of love ’twixt part and whole; The yea-nay of Freewill and Fate, Whereof both cannot be, yet are; The praise a poet wins too late Who starves from earth into a star; The lies that serve great parties well, While truths but give their Christ a cross; The loves that send warm souls to hell, While cold-blood neuters take no loss; Th’ indifferent smile that nature’s grace On Jesus, Judas, pours alike; Th’ indifferent frown on nature’s face When luminous lightnings strangely strike The sailor praying on his knees And spare his mate that’s cursing God; How babes and widows starve and freeze, Yet Nature will not stir a clod; Why Nature blinds us in each act Yet makes no law in mercy bend, No pitfall from our feet retract, No storm cry out `Take shelter, friend;’ Why snakes that crawl the earth should ply Rattles, that whoso hears may shun, While serpent lightnings in the sky, But rattle when the deed is done; How truth can e’er be good for them That have not eyes to bear its strength, And yet how stern our lights condemn Delays that lend the darkness length; To know all things, save knowingness; To grasp, yet loosen, feeling’s rein; To waste no manhood on success; To look with pleasure upon pain; Though teased by small mixt social claims, To lose no large simplicity, And midst of clear-seen crimes and shames To move with manly purity; To hold, with keen, yet loving eyes, Art’s realm from Cleverness apart, To know the Clever good and wise, Yet haunt the lonesome heights of Art; O Psalmist of the weak, the strong, O Troubadour of love and strife, Co-Litanist of right and wrong, Sole Hymner of the whole of life, I know not how, I care not why, Thy music brings this broil at ease, And melts my passion’s mortal cry In satisfying symphonies. Yea, it forgives me all my sins, Fits life to love like rhyme to rhyme, And tunes the task each day begins By the last trumpet-note of Time.
Sidney Lanier's other poems:
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