THE wailful sweetness of the violin
Floats down the hushèd waters of the wind;
The heart-strings of the throbbing harp begin
To long in aching music. Spirit-pined,
In wafts that poignant sweetness drifts, until
The wounded soul ooze sadness. The red sun,
A bubble of fire, drops slowly toward the hill,
While one bird prattles that the day is done.
O setting Sun, that as in révèrent days
Sinkest in music to thy smoothèd sleep,
Discrowned of homage, though yet crowned with rays
Hymned not at harvest more, though reapers reap:
For thee this music wakes not. O deceived,
If thou hear in thèse thoughtless harmonies
; A pious phantom of adorings reaved,
And echo of fair ancient flatteries !
Yet, in this field where the Cross planted reigns,
I know not what stränge passion bows my head
To thee, whose great command upon my veins
Proves thee a god for me not dead, not dead !
For worship it is too incredulous,
For doubt-oh, too believing-passionate !
What wild divinity makes my heart thus
A fount of most baptismal tears?-Thy straight
Long beam lies steady on the Cross. Ah me!
What secret would thy radiant finger show?
Of thy bright mastership is this the key?
Is this thy secret, then? And is it woe?
Fling from thine ear the burning curls, and hark
A song thou hast not heard in Northern day;
For Rome too daring, and for Greece too dark,
Sweet with wild wings that pass, that pass away!
ALPHA and Omega, sadness and mirth,
The springing music, and its wasting breath-
The fairest things in Life are Death and Birth,
And of these two the fairer thing is Death.
Mystical twins of Time inseparable,
The younger ha th the hoher array,
And hath the awfuller sway:
It is the falling star that trails the light,
It is the breaking wave that hath the might,
The passing shower that rainbows maniple.
Is it not so, O thou down-stricken Day,
That draw'st thy splendours round thee in thy fall ?
High was thine Eastern pomp inaugural;
But thou dost set in statelier pageantry
Lauded with tumults of a firmament:
Thy visible music-blasts make deaf the sky,
Thy cymbals clang to fire the Occident,
Thou dost thy dying so triumphally:
I see the crimson blaring of thy shawms!
Why do those lucent palms
Strew thy feet's failing thicklier than their might,
Who dost but hood thy glorious eyes with night,
And vex the heels of all the yesterdays?
Lo ! this loud, lackeying praise
Will stay behind to greet the usurping moon,
When tìiey have cloud-barred over thee the West.
Oh, shake the bright dust from thy parting shoon !
The earth not paans thee, nor serves thy hest,
Be godded not by Heaven ! avert thy face,
And leave to blank disgrace
The oblivious world ! unsceptre thee of state and place !
Yet ere Olympus thou wast, and a god !
Though we deny thy nod, ^
We cannot spoil thee of thy divinity.
What know we elder than thee?
When thou didst, bursting from the great void's husk,
Leap like a Hon on the throat o' the dusk;
When the angels rose-chapleted
Sang each to other,
The vaulted blaze overhead
Of their vast pinions spread,
Hailing thee brother;
How chaos rolled back from the wonder,
And the First Morn knelt down to thy visage of thunder !
Thou didst draw to thy side
Thy young Auroral bride,
And lift her veil of night and mystery;
Tellus with baby hands
Shook off her swaddling-bands,
And from the unswathèd vapours laughed to thee.
Thou twi-form deity, nurse at once and sire !
Thou genitor that all things nourishest !
The earth was suckled at thy shining breast,
And in her veins is quick thy milky fire.
Who scarfed her with the morning? and who set
Upon her brow the day-fall's carcanet ?
Who queened her front with the enrondured moon?
Who dug night's jewels from their vaulty mine
To dower her, past an eastern wizard's dreams,
When, hovering on him through his haschish-swoon,
All the rained gems of the old Tartarian line
Shiver in lustrous throbbings of tinged flame?-
Whereof a moiety in the Paoli's seams
Statelily builded their Venetian name.
Thou hast en woofèd her
An empress of the air,
And all her births are propertied by thee:
Her teeming centuries
Drew being from thine eyes:
Thou fatt'st the marrow of all quality.
Who lit the furnace of the mammoth's heart ?
Who shagged him like Pilatus' ribbed flanks?
Who raised the columned ranks
Of that old pre-diluvian forestry,
Which like a continent torn oppressed the sea,
When the ancient heavens did in rains depart,
While the high-dancèd whirls
Of the to sed scud made hiss thy drenched curls?
Thou rear'dst the enormous brood;
Who hast with life imbued
The lion maned in tawny majesty,
The tiger velvet-barred,
The stealthy-stepping pard,
And the lithe panther's flexuous symmetry.
How came the entombèd tree a light-bearer
Though sunk in lightless lair ?
Friend of the forgers of earth,
Mate of the earthquake and thunders volcanic,
Clasped in the arms of the forces Titanic
Which rock like a cradle the girth
Of the ether-hung world ;
Swart son of the swarthy mine,
When flame on the breath of his nostrils feeds
How is his countenance half-divine,
Like thee in thy sanguine weeds ?
Thou gavest him his light,
Though sepultured in night
Beneath the dead bones of a perished world;
Over his prostrate form
Though cold, and heat, and storm,