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Poem by Francis Turner Palgrave

The Ancient and Modern Muses

THE monument outlasting bronze
Was promised well by bards of old;
The lucid outline of their lay
Its sweet precision keeps for aye,
Fixed in the ductile language-gold.

But we who work with smaller skill,
And less refined material mold,
--This close conglomerate English speech,
Bequest of many tribes, that each
Brought here and wrought at from of old,

Residuum rough, eked out by rhyme,
Barbarian ornament uncouth,--
Our hope is less to last through Art
Than deeper searching of the heart,
Than broader range of uttered truth.

One keen-cut group, one deed or aim
Athenian Sophocles could show,
And rest content:--But Shakespeare's stage
Must hold the glass to every age,--
A thousand forms and passions glow

Upon the world-wide canvas. So
With larger scope our art we ply;
And if the crown be harder won,
Diviner rays around it run,
With strains of fuller harmony. 

Francis Turner Palgrave

Francis Turner Palgrave's other poems:
  1. Elizabeth at Tilbury
  2. A Night Journey
  3. Sir Hugh Willoughby
  4. England Once More
  5. Alfred The Great

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