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OF Prometheus, how undaunted

On Olympus' shining bastions

His audacious foot he planted,
Myths are told and songs are chaunted,
Full of promptings and suggestions.

Beautiful is the tradition

Of that flight through heavenly portals, The old classic superstition

Of the theft and the transmission

Of the fire of the Immortals!

First the deed of noble daring,

Born of heavenward aspiration, Then the fire with mortals sharing,

Then the vulture, the despairing

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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 !

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