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OF Prometheus, how undaunted
His audacious foot he planted,
Myths are told and songs are chaunted,
Full of promptings and suggestions.
Beautiful is the tradition
The old classic superstition
Of the theft and the transmission
First the deed of noble daring,
Then the fire with mortals sharing,
Then the vulture, — the despairing
Cry of pain on crags Caucasian.
All is but a symbol painted
Only those are crowned and sainted
Who with grief have been acquainted,
Making nations nobler, freer.
In their feverish exultations,
In their passionate pulsations,
In their words among the nations,
The Promethean fire is burning.
Shall it, then, be unavailing,
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,
Thus were Milton and Cervantes,
Nature's priests and Corybantes,
By affliction touched and saddened.
But the glories so transcendent
And, on all their steps attendant,
Make their darkened lives resplendent
With such gleams of inward lustre !
All the melodies mysterious,
Thoughts in attitudes imperious,
Voices soft, and deep, and serious,
Words that whispered, songs that haunted
All the soul in rapt suspension,
Chords of life in utmost tension,
With the fervor of invention,
With the rapture of creating !
Ah, Prometheus! heaven-scaling !
Even the faintest heart, unquailing,
Might behold the vulture sailing
Round the cloudy crags Caucasian