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Then the fire with mortals sharing,
All is but a symbol painted
Of the Poet, Prophet, Seer;
Making nations nobler, freer.
In their feverish exultations,
In their triumph and their yearning,
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,
All the melodies mysterious,
Through the dreary darkness chaunted;
Words that whispered, songs that haunted!
All the soul in rapt suspension, All the quivering, palpitating 11
Chords of life in utmost tension.
Ah? Prometheus! heaven-sealing!
In such hours of exultation
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!
THE LADDER OF ST. AUGUSTINE.
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,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
The low desire, the base design,
The revel of the ruddy wine,
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
All these must first be trampled down
In the bright fields of fair renown