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- The White Bees - 5/11 -


Mother of all the manifold forms of life, deep- bosomed, patient, impassive, Silent brooder and nurse of lyrical joys and sor- rows! Out of thee, yea, surely out of the fertile depth below thy breast, Issued in some Strange way, thou lying motion- less, voiceless, All these songs of nature, rhythmical, passionate, yearning, Coming in music from earth, but not unto earth returning.

Dust are the blood-red hearts that beat in time to these measures, Thou hast taken them back to thyself, secretly, irresistibly Drawing the crimson currents of life down, down, down Deep into thy bosom again, as a river is lost in the sand.

But the souls of the singers have entered into the songs that revealed them,-- Passionate songs, immortal songs of joy and grief and love and longing: Floating from heart to heart of thy children, they echo above thee: Do they not utter thy heart, the voices of those that love thee?

Long hadst thou lain like a queen transformed by some old enchantment Into an alien shape, mysterious, beautiful, speech- less, Knowing not who thou wert, till the touch of thy Lord and Lover Working within thee awakened the man-child to breathe thy secret. All of thy flowers and birds and forests and flow- ing waters Are but enchanted forms to embody the life of the spirit; Thou thyself, earth-mother, in mountain and meadow and ocean, Holdest the poem of God, eternal thought and emotion.

MILTON

I

Lover of beauty, walking on the height Of pure philosophy and tranquil song; Born to behold the visions that belong To those who dwell in melody and light; Milton, thou spirit delicate and bright! What drew thee down to join the Roundhead throng Of iron-sided warriors, rude and strong, Fighting for freedom in a world half night?

Lover of Liberty at heart wast thou, Above all beauty bright, all music clear: To thee she bared her bosom and her brow, Breathing her virgin promise in thine ear, And bound thee to her with a double vow,-- Exquisite Puritan, grave Cavalier!

II

The cause, the cause for which thy soul resigned Her singing robes to battle on the plain, Was won, O poet, and was lost again; And lost the labour of thy lonely mind On weary tasks of prose. What wilt thou find To comfort thee for all the toil and pain? What solace, now thy sacrifice is vain And thou art left forsaken, poor, and blind?

Like organ-music comes the deep reply: "The cause of truth looks lost, but shall be won. For God hath given to mine inward eye Vision of England soaring to the sun. And granted me great peace before I die, In thoughts of lowly duty bravely done."

III

O bend again above thine organ-board, Thou blind old poet longing for repose! Thy Master claims thy service not with those Who only stand and wait for his reward. He pours the heavenly gift of song restored Into thy breast, and bids thee nobly close A noble life, with poetry that flows In mighty music of the major chord.

Where hast thou learned this deep, majestic strain, Surpassing all thy youthful lyric grace, To sing of Paradise? Ah, not in vain The griefs that won at Dante's side thy place, And made thee, Milton, by thy years of pain, The loftiest poet of the Saxon race!

WORDSWORTH

Wordsworth, thy music like a river rolls Among the mountains, and thy song is fed By living springs far up the watershed; No whirling flood nor parching drought controls The crystal current; even on the shoals It murmurs clear and sweet; and when its bed Darkens below mysterious cliffs of dread, Thy voice of peace grows deeper in our souls.

But thou in youth hast known the breaking stress Of passion, and hast trod despair's dry ground Beneath black thoughts that wither and de- stroy. Ah, wanderer, led by human tenderness Home to the heart of Nature, thou hast found The hidden Fountain of Recovered Joy.

KEATS

The melancholy gift Aurora gained From Jove, that her sad lover should not see The face of death, no goddess asked for thee, My Keats! But when the crimson blood-drop stained Thy pillow, thou didst read the fate ordained,-- Brief life, wild love, a flight of poesy! And then,--a shadow fell on Italy: Thy star went down before its brightness waned.

Yet thou hast won the gift Tithonus missed: Never to feel the pain of growing old, Nor lose the blissful sight of beauty's truth, But with the ardent lips that music kissed To breathe thy song, and, ere thy heart grew cold, Become the Poet of Immortal Youth.

SHELLEY

Knight-errant of the Never-ending Quest, And Minstrel of the Unfulfilled Desire; For ever tuning thy frail earthly lyre To some unearthly music, and possessed With painful passionate longing to invest The golden dream of Love's immortal fire In mortal robes of beautiful attire, And fold perfection to thy throbbing breast!

What wonder, Shelley, if the restless wave Should claim thee and the leaping flame con- sume Thy drifted form on Viareggio's beach? Fate to thy body gave a fitting grave, And bade thy soul ride on with fiery plume, Thy wild song ring in ocean's yearning speech!

ROBERT BROWNING

How blind the toil that burrows like the mole, In winding graveyard pathways under- ground, For Browning's lineage! What if men have found Poor footmen or rich merchants on the roll Of his forbears? Did they beget his soul? Nay, for he came of ancestry renowned Through all the world,--the poets laurel- crowned With wreaths from which the autumn takes no toll.

The blazons on his coat-of-arms are these: The flaming sign of Shelley's heart on fire, The golden globe of Shakespeare's human stage, The staff and scrip of Chaucer's pilgrimage, The rose of Dante's deep, divine desire, The tragic mask of wise Euripides.

LONGFELLOW

In a great land, a new land, a land full of labour and riches and confusion, Where there were many running to and fro, and shouting, and striving together, In the midst of the hurry and the troubled noise, I heard the voice of one singing.


The White Bees - 5/11

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