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Then the fire with mortals sharing,
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.
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, All the quivering, palpitating | 1
Chords of life in utmost tension,
With the rapture of creating !
Ah, Prometheus! heaven-scaling !
Even the faintest heart, unquailing,
Might behold the vulture sailing
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,
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,
And all occasions of excess;
The longing for ignoble things;
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
The right of eminent domain.