Music, Life & Everything
When music sounds, all that I was I am
Ere to this haunt of brooding dust I came;
And from Time’s woods break into distant song
The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.
Daughter of Psyche, pledge of that last night
When, pierced with pain and bitter-sweet delight,
She knew her Love and saw her Lord depart,
Then breathed her wonder and her woe forlorn
Into a single cry, and thou wast born?
Thou flower of rapture and thou fruit of grief;
Invisible enchantress of the heart;
Mistress of charms that bring relief
To sorrow, and to joy impart
A heavenly tone that keeps it undefiled,–
Thou art the child
Of Amor, and by right divine
A throne of love is thine,
Thou flower-folded, golden-girdled, star-crowned Queen,
Whose bridal beauty mortal eyes have never seen!
Thou art the Angel of the pool that sleeps,
While peace and joy lie hidden in its deeps,
Waiting thy touch to make the waters roll
In healing murmurs round the weary soul.
Ah, when wilt thou draw near,
Thou messenger of mercy robed in song?
My lonely heart has listened for thee long;
And now I seem to hear
Across the crowded market-place of life,
Thy measured foot-fall, ringing light and clear
Above the unmeaning noises and the unruly strife;
In quiet cadence, sweet and slow,
Serenely pacing to and fro,
Thy far-off steps are magical and dear.
Ah, turn this way, come close and speak to me!
>From this dull bed of languor set my spirit free,
And bid me rise, and let me walk awhile with thee
Where wilt thou lead me first?
In what still region
Of thy domain,
Whose provinces are legion,
Wilt thou restore me to myself again,
And quench my heart’s long thirst?
I pray thee lay thy golden girdle down,
And put away thy starry crown:
For one dear restful hour
Assume a state more mild.
Clad only in thy blossom-broidered gown
That breathes familiar scent of many a flower,
Take the low path that leads thro’ pastures green;
And though thou art a Queen,
Be Rosamund awhile, and in thy bower,
By tranquil love and simple joy beguiled,
Sing to my soul, as mother to her child.
O lead me by the hand,
And let my heart have rest,
And bring me back to childhood land,
To find again the long-lost band
Of playmates blithe and blest.
Some quaint, old-fashioned air,
That all the children knew,
Shall run before us everywhere,
Like a little maid with flying hair,
To guide the merry crew.
Along the garden ways
We chase the light-foot tune,
And in and out the flowery maze,
With eager haste and fond delays,
In pleasant paths of June.
For us the fields are new,
For us the woods are rife
With fairy secrets, deep and true,
And heaven is but a tent of blue
Above the game of life.
The world is far away:
The fever and the fret,
And all that makes the heart grow gray,
Is out of sight and far away,
Dear Music, while I hear thee play
That olden, golden roundelay,
“Remember and forget!”
The tide of life is turning;
The waves of light ebb slowly down the west:
Along the edge of dark some stars are burning
To guide thy spirit safely to an isle of rest.
A little rocking on the tranquil deep
Of song, to soothe thy yearning,
A little slumber and a little sleep,
And so, forget, forget!
The day was long in pleasure;
Its echoes die away across the hill;
Now let thy heart beat time to their slow measure
That swells, and sinks, and faints, and falls, till all is still.
Then, like a weary child that loves to keep
Locked in its arms some treasure,
Thy soul in calm content shall fall asleep,
And so forget, forget.
And if thou hast been weeping,
Let go the thoughts that bind thee to thy grief:
Lie still, and watch the singing angels, reaping
The golden harvest of thy sorrow, sheaf by sheaf;
Or count thy joys like flocks of snow-white sheep
That one by one come creeping
Into the quiet fold, until thou sleep,
And so forget, forget!
Thou art a child and knowest
So little of thy life! But music tells
One secret of the world thro’ which thou goest
To work with morning song, to rest with evening bells:
Life is in tune with harmony so deep
That when the notes are lowest
Thou still canst lay thee down in peace and sleep,
For God will not forget.
Out of the garden of playtime, out of the bower of rest,
Fain would I follow at daytime, music that calls to a quest.
Hark, how the galloping measure
Quickens the pulses of pleasure;
Gaily saluting the morn
With the long clear note of the hunting-horn
Echoing up from the valley,
Over the mountain side,–
Rally, you hunters, rally,
Rally, and ride!
Drink of the magical potion music has mixed with her wine,
Full of the madness of motion, joyful, exultant, divine!
Leave all your troubles behind you,
Ride where they never can find you,
Into the gladness of morn,
With the long, clear note of the hunting-horn,
Swiftly o’er hillock and hollow,
Sweeping along with the wind,–
Follow, you hunters, follow,
Follow and find!
What will you reach with your riding? What is the charm of the chase?
Just the delight and the striding swing of the jubilant pace.
Danger is sweet when you front her,–
In at the death, every hunter!
Now on the breeze the mort is borne
In the long, clear note of the hunting-horn,
Winding merrily, over and over,–
Come, come, come!
Home again, Ranger! home again, Rover!
Turn again, home!
Now let the sleep-tune blend with the play-tune,
Weaving the mystical spell of the dance;
Lighten the deep tune, soften the gay tune,
Mingle a tempo that turns in a trance.
Half of it sighing, half of it smiling,
Smoothly it swings, with a triplicate beat;
Calling, replying, yearning, beguiling,
Wooing the heart and bewitching the feet.
Every drop of blood
Rises with the flood,
Rocking on the waves of the strain;
Youth and beauty glide
Turning with the tide–
Music making one out of twain,
Bearing them away, and away, and away,
Like a tone and its terce–
Till the chord dissolves, and the dancers stay,
Violins leading, take up the measure,
Turn with the tune again,–clarinets clear
Answer their pleading,–harps full of pleasure
Sprinkle their silver like light on the mere.
Merry little motes,
Tangled in the haze
Of the lamp’s golden rays,
In the air,
Like a spray,–
Till the fuller stream of the might of the tune,
Gliding like a dream in the light of the moon,
Bears them all away, and away, and away,
Floating in the trance of the dance.
Then begins a measure stately,
Languid, slow, serene;
All the dancers move sedately,
Stepping leisurely and straitly,
With a courtly mien;
Crossing hands and changing places,
Bowing low between,
While the minuet inlaces
Waving arms and woven paces,–
Where is she whose form is folden
In its royal sheen?
>From our longing eyes withholden
By her mystic girdle golden,
Beauty sought but never seen,
Music walks the maze, a queen.
Music, they do thee wrong who say thine art
Is only to enchant the sense.
For every timid motion of the heart,
And every passion too intense
To bear the chain of the imperfect word,
And every tremulous longing, stirred
By spirit winds that come we know not whence
And go we know not where,
And every inarticulate prayer
Beating about the depths of pain or bliss,
Like some bewildered bird
That seeks its nest but knows not where it is,
And every dream that haunts, with dim delight,
The drowsy hour between the day and night,
The wakeful hour between the night and day,–
Imprisoned, waits for thee,
Impatient, yearns for thee,
The queen who comes to set the captive free
Thou lendest wings to grief to fly away,
And wings to joy to reach a heavenly height;
And every dumb desire that Storms within the breast
Thou leadest forth to sob or sing itself to rest.
All these are thine, and therefore love is thine.
For love is joy and grief,
And trembling doubt, and certain-sure belief,
And fear, and hope, and longing unexpressed,
In pain most human, and in rapture brief
Love would possess, yet deepens when denied;
And love would give, yet hungers to receive;
Love like a prince his triumph would achieve;
And like a miser in the dark his joys would hide.
Love is most bold:
He leads his dreams like armed men in line;
Yet when the siege is set, and he must speak,
Calling the fortress to resign
Its treasure, valiant love grows weak,
And hardly dares his purpose to unfold.
Less with his faltering lips than with his eyes
He claims the longed-for prize:
Love fain would tell it all, yet leaves the best untold.
But thou shalt speak for love. Yea, thou shalt teach
The mystery of measured tone,
The Pentecostal speech
That every listener heareth as his own.
For on thy head the cloven tongues of fire,–
Diminished chords that quiver with desire,
And major chords that glow with perfect peace,–
Have fallen from above;
And thou canst give release
In music to the burdened heart of love.
Sound with the ‘cellos’ pleading, passionate strain
The yearning theme, and let the flute reply
In placid melody, while violins complain,
And sob, and sigh,
With muted string;
Then let the oboe half-reluctant sing
Of bliss that trembles on the verge of pain,
While ‘cellos plead and plead again,
With throbbing notes delayed, that would impart
To every urgent tone the beating of the heart.
So runs the andante, making plain
The hopes and fears of love without a word.
Then comes the adagio, with a yielding theme
Through which the violas flow soft as in a dream,
While horns and mild bassoons are heard
In tender tune, that seems to float
Like an enchanted boat
Upon the downward-gliding stream,
Toward the allegro’s wide, bright sea
Of dancing, glittering, blending tone,
Where every instrument is sounding free,
And harps like wedding-chimes are rung, and trumpets blown
Around the barque of love
That sweeps, with smiling skies above,
A royal galley, many-oared,
Into the happy harbour of the perfect chord.
Light to the eye and Music to the ear,–
These are the builders of the bridge that springs
>From earths’s dim shore of half-remembered things
To reach the spirit’s home, the heavenly sphere
Where nothing silent is and nothing dark.
So when I see the rainbow’s arc
Spanning the showery sky, far-off I hear
Music, and every colour sings:
And while the symphony builds up its round
Full sweep of architectural harmony
Above the tide of Time, far, far away I see
A bow of colour in the bow of sound.
Red as the dawn the trumpet rings,
Imperial purple from the trombone flows,
The mellow horn melts into evening rose.
Blue as the sky, the choir of strings
Darkens in double-bass to ocean’s hue,
Rises in violins to noon-tide’s blue,
With threads of quivering light shot through and through.
Green as the mantle that the summer flings
Around the world, the pastoral reeds in time
Embroider melodies of May and June.
Yellow as gold,
Yea, thrice-refined gold,
And purer than the treasures of the mine,
Floods of the human voice divine
Along the arch in choral song are rolled.
So bends the bow complete:
And radiant rapture flows
Across the bridge, so full, so strong, so sweet,
That the uplifted spirit hardly knows
Whether the Music-Light that glows
Within the arch of tones and colours seven
Is sunset-peace of earth, or sunrise-joy of Heaven.
SEA AND SHORE
Music, I yield to thee;
As swimmer to the sea
I give my Spirit to the flood of song:
Bear me upon thy breast
In rapture and at rest,
Bathe me in pure delight and make me strong;
From strife and struggle bring release,
And draw the waves of passion into tides of peace.
Remember’d songs, most dear,
In living songs I hear,
While blending voices gently swing and sway
In melodies of love,
Whose mighty currents move,
With singing near and singing far away;
Sweet in the glow of morning light,
And sweeter still across the starlit gulf of night.
Music, in thee we float,
And lose the lonely note
Of self in thy celestial-ordered strain,
Until at last we find
The life to love resigned
In harmony of joy restored again;
And songs that cheered our mortal days
Break on the coast of light in endless hymns of praise.
Like the gale, that sighs along
Beds of oriental flowers,
Is the grateful breath of song,
That once was heard in happier hours.
Fill’d with balm the gale sighs on,
Though the flowers have sunk in death;
So, when pleasure’s dream is gone,
Its memory lives in Music’s breath.
Music, oh, how faint, how weak,
Language fades before thy spell!
Why should Feeling ever speak,
When thou canst breathe her soul so well?
Friendship’s balmy words may feign,
Love’s are even more false than they;
Oh! ’tis only music’s strain
Can sweetly soothe, and not betray.
But, as the story goes, there was a negro fiddler called old Dick,
Who was invited by a wedding party to give them music,
In the winter time, when the snow lay thick upon the ground,
And the rivers far and near were frozen all around.
So away went Dick to the wedding as fast as he could go,
Walking cautiously along o’er the crisp and crackling snow,
And the path was a narrow one, the greater part of the way
Through a dark forest, which filled his heart with dismay.
And when hurrying onward, not to be late at the festival,
He heard the howl of a wolf, which did his heart appal,
And the howl was answered, and as the howl came near
Poor Old Dick, fiddle in hand, began to shake with fear.
And as the wolves gathered in packs from far and near,
Old Dick in the crackling bushes did them hear,
And they ran along to keep pace with him,
Then poor Dick began to see the danger he was in.
And every few minutes a wolf would rush past him with a snap,
With a snapping sound like the ring of a steel trap,
And the pack of wolves gathered with terrible rapidity,
So that Dick didn’t know whether to stand or flee.
And his only chance, he thought, was to keep them at bay
By preserving the greatest steadiness without dismay,
Until he was out of the forest and on open ground,
Where he thought a place of safety might be found.
He remembered an old hut stood in the clearing,
And towards it he was slowly nearing,
And the hope of reaching it urged him on,
But he felt a trifle dispirited and woe-begone.
And the poor fellow’s heart with fear gave a bound,
When he saw the wolves’ green eyes glaring all around,
And they rushed at him boldly, one after another,
Snapping as they passed, which to him was great bother.
And Dick sounded his fiddle and tried to turn them back,
And the sound caused the wolves to leap back in a crack,
When Dick took to his heels at full run,
But now poor Dick’s danger was only begun:
For the wolves pursued him without delay,
But Dick arrived at the hut in great dismay,
And had just time to get on the roof and play,
And at the strains of the music the wolves felt gay.
And for several hours he sat there in pain,
Knowing if he stopped playing the wolves would be at him again,
But the rage of the wolves abated to the subduing strains,
And at last he was rewarded for all his pains:
For the wedding-party began to weary for some music,
And they all came out to look for old Dick,
And on top of the hut they found him fiddling away,
And they released him from his dangerous position without delay.
In your strings is hid a music that no hand hath e’er let fall,
In your soul is sealed a pleasure that you have not known at all;
Pleasure subtle as your spirit, strange and slender as your frame,
Fiercer than the pain that folds you, softer than your sorrow’s name.
Not as mine, my soul’s annointed, not as mine the rude and light
Easy mirth of many faces, swaggering pride of song and fight;
Something stranger, something sweeter, something waiting you afar,
Secret as your stricken senses, magic as your sorrows are.
But on this, God’s harp supernal, stretched but to be stricken once,
Hoary time is a beginner, Life a bungler, Death a dunce.
But I will not fear to match them-no, by God, I will not fear,
I will learn you, I will play you and the stars stand still to hear.
Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness
Are driven o’er the shoals of guilt, or ocean of excess:
The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain
The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again.
Then the mortal coldness of the soul like death itself comes down;
It cannot feel for others’ woes, it dare not dream its own;
That heavy chill has frozen o’er the fountain of our tears,
And though the eye may sparkle still, ’tis where the ice appears.
Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and mirth distract the breast,
Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest,
‘Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruined turret wreath—
All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and grey beneath.
Oh, could I feel as I have felt, or be what I have been,
Or weep as I could once have wept, o’er many a vanished scene;
As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be,
So, midst the withered waste of life, those tears would flow to me
He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river:
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.
High on the shore sat the great god Pan,
While turbidly flowed the river;
And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.
He cut it short, did the great god Pan,
(How tall it stood in the river!)
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notched the poor dry empty thing
In holes, as he sat by the river.
“This is the way,” laughed the great god Pan,
(Laughed while he sat by the river)
“The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed.”
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
He blew in power by the river.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river.
Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man:
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain—
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.
And yet I cry in anguish, as I hear
The long drawn pageant of your passage roll
Magnificently forth into the night.
To yon fair land ye come from, to yon sphere
Of strength and love where now ye shape your flight,
O even wings of music, bear my soul!
Ye have the power, if but ye had the will,
Strong-smitten steady chords in sequence grand,
To bear me forth into that tranquil land
Where good is no more ravelled up with ill;
Where she and I, remote upon some hill
Or by some quiet river’s windless strand,
May live, and love, and wander hand in hand,
And follow nature simply, and be still.
From this grim world, where, sadly, prisoned, we
Sit bound with others’ heart-strings as with chains,
And, if one moves, all suffer, – to that Goal,
If such a land, if such a sphere, there be,
Thither, from life and all life’s joys and pains,
O even wings of music, bear my soul!
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