Few poets beckon to the calmly good


Few poets beckon to the calmly good,
Few lay a hallowing hand upon the head
Which lowers its barbarous for our Delphic crown:
But loose strings rattle on unseasoned wood,
And weak words whiffle round, where Virtue's meed
Shines in a smile or shrivels in a frown.


He shall not give it, shall not touch it, he
Who crawls into the gold mine, bending low
And bringing from its dripples with much mire
One shining atom. Could it ever be,
O God of light and song? The breast must glow
Not with thine only, but with Virtue's fire.


I stand where Tiber rolls his turbid wave
And see two men rise up; in purple one
And holding in his grasp the golden wards;
The other, not less stately, nor more brave,
Clad modestly. Pass! By your hands be done
God's work, creators of immortal bards!
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