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(AFTER HE HAS BEEN EXTEMPORIZING
UPON THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OF HIS INVENTION)
Raising my rampired walls of gold as
transparent as glass, Eager to do and die, yield each his
place to the rest: For higher still and higher (as a runner
tips with fire, When a great illumination surprises a
festal night, Outlined round and round Rome's dome
from space to spire) Up, the pinnacled glory reached, and
the pride of my soul was in sight.
Would that the structure brave, the mani
fold music I build, Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys
to their work, Claiming each slave of the sound, at a
touch ... as when Solomon willed Armies of angels that soar, legions of
demons that lurk, Man, brute, reptile, Ay, - alien of end and of aim,
5 Adverse, each from the other heaven
high, hell-deep removed, Should rush into sight at
named the ineffable Name, And pile him a palace straight, to pleas
ure the princess he loved! ...
In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was
certain, to match man's birth Nature in turn conceived, obeying an
impulse as I; And the emulous heaven yearned down,
made effort to reach the earth, As the earth had done her best, in my
passion, to scale the sky. Novel splendors burst forth, grew fami
liar and dwelt with mine: Not a point nor peak but found and
fixed its wandering star, Meteor-moons, balls of blaze; and they
did not pale nor pine, For earth had attained to heaven, there
was no more near nor far.
Would it might tarry like his, the beau
tiful building of mine, This which my keys in a crowd pressed
and importuned to raise ! Ah, one and all, how they helped, would
dispart now and now combine, Zealous to hasten the work, heighten
their master his praise ! And one would bury his brow with a
blind plunge down to hell, Burrow awhile and build, broad on the
roots of things, Then up again swim into sight, having
based me my palace well, Founded it, fearless of fame, Aat on the
Nay, more! For there wanted not who
walked in the glare and glow: Presences plain in the place; or, fresh
from the Protoplast, Furnished for ages to come, when a kind
lier wind should blow, Lured now to begin and live, in a house
to their liking at last; Or else the wonderful Dead who have
passed through the body and gone, But were back once more to breathe in
an old world worth their new : What never had been, was now; what
was, as it shall be anon; And what is, shall I say, matched both? for I made perfect,
And another would mount and march,
like the excellent minion he was, Ay, another and yet another, one crowd
but with many a crest,
To me, who must be saved because I cling
with my mind To the same, same self, same love, same
God: ay, what was, shall be.
VI All through my keys that gave their
sounds to a wish of my soul, All through my soul that praised as its
wish flowed visibly forth, All through music and me! For think,
had I painted the whole, Why, there it had stood, to see, nor the
process so wonder-worth; Had I written the same, made verse,
still, effect proceeds from cause: 45 Ye know why the forms are fair, ye
hear how the tale is told; It is all triumphant art, but art in obed
ience to laws; Painter and poet are proud in the artist
list enrolled :
Therefore to whom turn I but to thee, the ineffable Name?
65 Builder and maker, thou, of houses not
made with hands! What, have fear of change from thee who
art ever the same? Doubt that thy power can fill the heart
that thy power expands? There shall never be one lost good! What
was, shall live as before: The evil is null, is naught, is silence
implying sound; What was good shall be good, with, for
evil, so much good more: On the earth the broken arcs; in the
heaven a perfect round.
But here is the finger of God, a Aash of
the will that can, Existent behind all laws, that made them
and, lo, they are! And I know not if, save in this, such gift
be allowed to man, That out of three sounds he frame, not
a fourth sound, but a star. Consider it well: each tone of our scale
in itself is naught; It is everywhere in the world, - loud,
soft, and all is said: Give it to me to use! I mix it with two
in my thought: And there! Ye have heard and seen:
consider, and bow the head!
All we have willed or hoped or dreamed
of good shall exist, Not its semblance, but itself: no beauty,
nor good, nor power Whose voice has gone forth, but each
survives for the melodist When eternity affirms the conception of
an hour. The high that proved too high, the heroic
for earth too hard, The passion that left the ground to lose
itself in the sky, Are music sent up to God by the lover
and the bard; Enough that he heard it once: we shall
hear it by and by.
Well, it is gone at last, the palace of music
I reared; Gone! and the good tears start, the
praises that come too slow; For one is assured at first, one scarce
can say that he feared, That he even gave it a thought, the
gone thing was to go. Never to be again! But many more of
the kind As good, nay, better, perchance: is this
your comfort to me?
And what is our failure here but a tri
umph's evidence For the fulness of the days? Have we
withered or agonized ?
Poor vaunt of life indeed,
the maw-crammed beast?
Well, it is earth with me; silence resumes
her reign: I will be patient and proud, and soberly
acquiesce. Give me the keys. I feel for the common
chord again, Sliding by semitones till I sink to the minor,
yes, And I blunt it into a ninth; and I stand
on alien ground, Surveying awhile the heights I rolled
from into the deep; Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found,
95 The C Major of this life: so, now I will
try to sleep.
Rejoice we are allied
I must believe.
Then, welcome each rebuff
ount the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!
RABBI BEN EZRA
Not that, amassing flowers,
What is he but a brute
To man, propose this test:
And I shall thereupon Thy body at its best,
Take rest, ere I be gone How far can that project thy soul on its Once more on my adventure brave and lone way?
Fearless and unperplexed, Yet gifts should prove their use:
battle next, I own the past profuse
What weapons to select, what armor to power each side, perfection every turn.
indue. Eyes, ears, took in their dole, Brain treasured up the whole:
Youth ended, I shall try Should not the heart beat once, “How
My gain or loss thereby; good to live and learn”?
Leave the fire ashes, what survives is
And I shall weigh the same,
Give life its praise or blame:
being old. too; Perfect I call thy plan. Thanks that I was a man!
For note, when evening shuts,
A certain moment cuts Maker, remake, complete, I trust what thou shalt do!”
The deed off, calls the glory from the
A whisper from the west For pleasant is this fesh;
Shoots -"Add this to the res:, Our soul, in its rose-mesh
Take it and try its worth: here dies anPulled ever to the earth, still yearns for other day.
So, better, age, exempt
Thoughts hardly to be packed From strife, should know, than tempt
Into a narrow act, Further. Thou waitedst age: wait death Fancies that broke through language and nor be afraid !
All, men ignored in me,
This, I was worth to God, whose wheel
the pitched shaped. Be named here, as thou callest thy hand With knowledge absolute,
Ay, note that Potter's wheel,
That metaphor! and feel Subject to no dispute From tools that crowded youth, nor let Why time spins fast, why passive lies our
clay, — thee feel alone.
Thou, to whom fools propound,
When the wine makes its round: Be there, for once and all,
"Since life fleets, all is change; the Past Severed great minds from small,
gone, seize Today!” Announced to each his station in the past! Was I the world arraigned,
Fool! All that is, at all, Were they my soul disdained,
Lasts ever, past recall; Right? Let age speak the truth, and give
Earth changes, but thy soul and God us peace at last!
What entered into thee, Now, who shall arbitrate?
That was, is, and shall be: Ten men love what I hate,
Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter Shun what I follow, slight what I re
and clay endure. ceive, Ten who in ears and eyes
He fixed thee 'mid this dance Match me: we all surmise,
Of plastic circumstance, They this thing, and I that: whom shall This Present thou, forsooth, would fain my soul believe?
To give thy soul its bent,
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently Called "work," must sentence pass,
impressed Things done, that took the eye and had the price;
What though the earlier grooves, O'er which, from level stand,
Which ran the laughing loves The low world laid its hand,
Around thy base, no longer pause and Found straightway to its mind, could value
press? in a trice:
What though, about thy rim,
Skull-things in order grim But all the world's coarse thumb
Grow out in graver mood, - obey the And finger failed to plumb,
sterner stress? So passed in making up the main account; All instincts immature,
Look not thou down, but up! All purposes unsure,
To uses of a cup: That weighed not
his work, yet
The festal board, lamp's flash and trumswelled the man's amount: