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OR THE POET'S FORETHOUGHT.
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,
Cry of pain on crags Caucasian.
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,
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,
With such gleams of inward lustre !
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
Chords of life in utmost tension,
With the rapture of creating !
Ah, Prometheus ! heaven-scaling !
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,
That with the hour begin and end, Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend.