Like vaulters in a circus round
Who leap from horse to horse, but never touch the ground.
For Genius made his cabin wide,
And Love led Gods therein to bide.
The atom displaces all atoms beside,
And Genius unspheres all souls that abide.
To transmute crime to wisdom, so to stem
The vice of Japhet by the thought of Shem.
He could condense cerulean ether
Into the very best sole-leather.
Forbore the ant-hill, shunned to tread,
In mercy, on one little head.
I have no brothers and no peers,
And the dearest interferes:
When I would spend a lonely day,
Sun and moon are in my way.
The brook sings on, but sings in vain
Wanting the echo in my brain.
He planted where the deluge ploughed.
His hired hands were wind and cloud;
His eyes detect the Gods concealed
In the hummock of the field.
For what need I of book or priest,
Or sibyl from the mummied East,
When every star is Bethlehem star?
I count as many as there are
Cinquefoils or violets in the grass,
So many saints and saviors,
So many high behaviors
Salute the bard who is alive
And only sees what he doth give.
Coin the day-dawn into lines
In which its proper splendor shines;
Coin the moonlight into verse
Which all its marvel shall rehearse,
Chasing with words fast-flowing things; nor try
To plant thy shrivelled pedantry
On the shoulders of the sky.
Ah, not to me those dreams belong!
A better voice peals through my song.
The Muse’s hill by Fear is guarded,
A bolder foot is still rewarded.
His instant thought a poet spoke,
And filled the age his fame;
An inch of ground the lightning strook
But lit the sky with flame.
If bright the sun, he tarries,
All day his song is heard;
And when he goes he carries
No more baggage than a bird.
The Asmodean feat is mine,
To spin my sand-heap into twine.
Slighted Minerva’s learned tongue,
But leaped with joy when on the wind
The shell of Clio rung.
FRAGMENTS ON NATURE AND LIFE
The patient Pan,
Drunken with nectar,
Sleeps or feigns slumber,
Music to the march of time.
This poor tooting, creaking cricket,
Pan, half asleep, rolling over
His great body in the grass,
Feigns to sleep, sleeping never;
’T is his manner,
Well he knows his own affair,
Piling mountain chains of phlegm
On the nervous brain of man,
As he holds down central fires
Under Alps and Andes cold;
Haply else we could not live,
Life would be too wild an ode.