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Then the fire with mortals sharing,

Then the vulture,

the despairing

Cry of pain on crags Caucasian.

All is but a symbol painted

Of the Poet, Prophet, Seer;

Only those are crowned and sainted
Who with grief have been acquainted,
Making nations nobler, freer.

In their feverish exultations,

In their triumph and their yearning, In their passionate pulsations,

In their words among the nations,

The Promethean fire is burning.

Shall it, then, be unavailing,

All this toil for human culture?

Through the cloud-rack, dark and trailing, Must they see above them sailing

O'er life's barren crags the vulture?

Such a fate as this was Dante's,

By defeat and exile maddened;
Thus were Milton and Cervantes,
Nature's priests and Corybantes,
By affliction touched and saddened.

But the glories so transcendent

That around their memories cluster,
And, on all their steps attendant,
Make their darkened lives resplendent
With such gleams of inward lustre !

All the melodies mysterious,

Through the dreary darkness chaunted;

Thoughts in attitudes imperious,

Voices soft, and deep, and serious,

Words that whispered, songs that haunted!

All the soul in rapt suspension,

All the quivering, palpitating

Chords of life in utmost tension,
With the fervor of invention,

With the rapture of creating!

Ah, Prometheus! heaven-scaling!
In such hours of exultation
Even the faintest heart, unquailing,
Might behold the vulture sailing
Round the cloudy crags Caucasian !

Though to all there is not given

Strength for such sublime endeavor, Thus to scale the walls of heaven, And to leaven with fiery leaven

All the hearts of men for ever;

Yet all bards, whose hearts unblighted Honor and believe the presage,

Hold aloft their torches lighted,

Gleaming through the realms benighted,

As they onward bear the message!


SAINT AUGUSTINE! well hast thou said,

That of our vices we can frame

A ladder, if we will but tread

Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

All common things, each day's events, That with the hour begin and end, Our pleasures and our discontents,

Are rounds by which we may ascend.

The low desire, the base design,

That makes another's virtues less; The revel of the ruddy wine,

And all occasions of excess;

The longing for ignoble things;

The strife for triumph more than truth; The hardening of the heart, that brings Irreverence for the dreams of youth;

All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill;
Whatever hinders or impedes

The action of the nobler will;

All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain

In the bright fields of fair renown

The right of eminent domain.

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