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Poem by Thomas MacDonagh

Of My Poems

There is no moral to my song,
I praise no right, I blame no wrong:
I tell of things that I have seen,
I show the man that I have been
As simply as a poet can
Who knows himself poet and man,
Who knows that unto him are shown
Rare visions of a Life unknown,
Who knows that unto him are taught
Rare words of wisdom all unsought
By him, and never understood
Till they are taken on trust for good
And, all unspoiled by pride, again
Uttered in trust to other men.
This is my practice and my rule,
Albeit I have been at school
These thirty years and studied much.
I've found wise books but never such
As could teach me a single word
To set by what my childhood heard.

I've studied conduct but not found
A single rule in all the round
Of sagest laws to set by this,
That he who runs to seek shall miss,
That he who waits in trusting calm
Shall have the laurel and the palm.
The singing way and winning way:
Who in himself aware can stay,
Leaving all memory and all strife,
Shall have the things of Truth and Life
Around him, as around a child
The timid creatures of the wild,--
Shall know the state that Adam gave
For gain of reason and the grave.

Let no one from this saying look
To find no poems in this book
But poems learned and uttered so:
Life I have lived and books I know,
And other common things I tell
That me and other men befell.
But when this rapture stirs the blood
When the first blossom breaks the bud
And Golden Joy begins anew,
Then in the calm stand near to view
The things we saw with Adam's eyes
In the first days of Paradise;
And these of all my seeing be
The light, and of my life to me:
Of life with life here and beyond:
They lift my deeds the grave above
And give a meaning to my love.

So to you two for whose loved sake
This gathering of song I make
I need not tell of right and wrong
Or set a moral to my song.

Thomas MacDonagh

Thomas MacDonagh's other poems:
  1. In Dread
  2. The Song of Joy
  3. A Dream of Being
  4. In an Island
  5. In Calm

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