NOT thine where marble-still and white Old statues share the tempered light And mock the uneven modern flight, But in the stream Of daily sorrow and delight To seek a theme. I too, O friend, have steeled my heart Boldly to choose the better part, To leave the beaten ways of art, And wholly free To dare, beyond the scanty chart, The deeper sea. All vain restrictions left behind, Frail bark! I loose my anchored mind And large, before the prosperous wind Desert the strand - A new Columbus sworn to find The morning land. Nor too ambitious, friend. To thee I own my weakness. Not for me To sing the enfranchised nations' glee, Or count the cost Of warships foundered far at sea And battles lost. High on the far-seen, sunny hills, Morning-content my bosom fills; Well-pleased, I trace the wandering rills And learn their birth. Far off, the clash of sovereign wills May shake the earth. The nimble circuit of the wheel, The uncertain poise of merchant weal, Heaven of famine, fire and steel When nations fall; These, heedful, from afar I feel - I mark them all. But not, my friend, not these I sing, My voice shall fill a narrower ring. Tired souls, that flag upon the wing, I seek to cheer: Brave wines to strengthen hope I bring, Life's cantineer! Some song that shall be suppling oil To weary muscles strained with toil, Shall hearten for the daily moil, Or widely read Make sweet for him that tills the soil His daily bread. Such songs in my flushed hours I dream (High thought) instead of armour gleam Or warrior cantos ream by ream To load the shelves - Songs with a lilt of words, that seem To sing themselves.
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