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Then the fire with mortals sharing,
Then the vulture,
Cry of pain on crags Caucasian.
All is but a symbol painted
Of the Poet, Prophet, Seer;
Only those are crowned and sainted
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;
But the glories so transcendent
That around their memories cluster,
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 rapture of creating!
Ah, Prometheus! heaven-scaling!
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.
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,
The action of the nobler will;
All these must first be trampled down
In the bright fields of fair renown
The right of eminent domain.