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!
The cause, the cause for which thy soul
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.”
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
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 English race!
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
Deepens below mysterious cliffs of dread,
Thy voice of peace grows deeper in our souls.
But thou in youth hast known the breaking
Of passion, and hast trod despair’s dry ground
Beneath black thoughts that wither and destroy.
Ah, wanderer, led by human tenderness
Home to the heart of Nature, thou hast found
The hidden Fountain of Recovered Joy.