With joy, not only of assured desire,
But also present joy
Of seeing the life’s corruption, stain by stain,
Vanish in the clear heat of Love irate,
And, fume by fume, the sick alloy
Of luxury, sloth and hate
Leaving the man, so dark erewhile,
The mirror merely of God’s smile.
Herein, O Pain, abides the praise
For which my song I raise;
But even the bastard good of intermittent ease
How greatly doth it please!
With what repose
The being from its bright exertion glows,
When from thy strenuous storm the senses sweep
Into a little harbour deep
When thou, O Pain,
Having devour’d the nerves that thee sustain,
Sleep’st, till thy tender food be somewhat grown
And how the lull
With tear-blind love is full!
What mockery of a man am I express’d
That I should wait for thee
Nor even dare to love, till thou lov’st me.
How shameful, too,
That, when thou lov’st, I am at first afraid
Of thy fierce kiss,
Like a young maid;
And only trust thy charms
And get my courage in thy throbbing arms.
And, when thou partest, what a fickle mind
Thou leav’st behind,
That, being a little absent from mine eye,
It straight forgets thee what thou art,
And ofttimes my adulterate heart
Dallies with Pleasure, thy pale enemy.
O, for the learned spirit without attaint
That does not faint,
But knows both how to have thee and to lack,
And ventures many a spell,
Unlawful but for them that love so well,
To call thee back.
XVI. PROPHETS WHO CANNOT SING.
Ponder, ye just, the scoffs that
From forth the foe:
’The holders of the Truth in Verity
Are people of a harsh and stammering tongue!
The hedge-flower hath its song;
Meadow and tree,
Water and wandering cloud
Find Seers who see,
And, with convincing music clear and loud,
Startle the adder-deafness of the crowd
By tones, O Love, from thee.
Views of the unveil’d heavens alone forth bring
Prophets who cannot sing,
Praise that in chiming numbers will not run;
At least, from David until Dante, none,
And none since him.
Fish, and not swim?
They think they somehow should, and so they try;
But (haply ’tis they screw the pitch too high)
’Tis still their fates
To warble tunes that nails might draw from slates.
They mean to spoil our sleep, and do, but all their gains
Are curses for their pains!’
Now who but knows
That truth to learn from foes
Is wisdom ripe?
Therefore no longer let us stretch our throats
Till hoarse as frogs
With straining after notes
Which but to touch would burst an organ-pipe.
Far better be dumb dogs.