The First Skylark of Spring

Two worlds hast thou to dwell in, Sweet—
The virginal untroubled sky,
And this vext region at my feet. . . .
Alas, but one have I!

To all my songs there clings the shade,
The dulling shade, of mundane care.
They amid mortal mists are made—
Thine in immortal air.

My heart is dashed with griefs and fears;
My song comes fluttering, and is gone.
O high above the home of tears,
Eternal Joy, sing on!

Not loftiest bard, of mightiest mind,
Shall ever chant a note so pure,
Till he can cast this earth behind
And breathe in heaven secure.

We sing of Life, with stormy breath
That shakes the lute's distempered string:
We sing of Love, and loveless Death
Takes up the song we sing.

And born in toils of Fate's control,
Insurgent from the womb, we strive
With proud unmanumitted soul
To burst the golden gyve.

Thy spirit knows nor bounds nor bars;
On thee no shreds of thraldom hang:
Not more enlarged, the morning stars
Their great Te Deum sang.

But I am fettered to the sod,
And but forget my bonds an hour;
In amplitude of dreams a god,
A slave in dearth of power.

And fruitless knowledge clouds my soul,
And fretful ignorance irks it more.
Thou sing'st as if thou knew'st the whole,
And lightly held'st thy lore!

Somewhat as thou, Man once could sing,
In porches of the lucent morn,
Ere he had felt his lack of wing,
Or cursed his iron bourn.

The springtime bubbled in his throat,
The sweet sky seemed not far above,
And young and lovesome came the note;—
Ah, thine is Youth and Love!

Thou sing'st of what he knew of old,
And dreamlike from afar recalls;
In flashes of forgotten gold
An orient glory falls.

And as he listens, one by one
Life's utmost splendours blaze more nigh;
Less inaccessible the sun,
Less alien grows the sky.

For thou art native to the spheres;
And of the courts of heaven art free,
And carriest to his temporal ears
News from eternity;

And lead'st him to the dizzy verge,
And lur'st him o'er the dazzling line,
Where mortal and immortal merge,
And human dies divine.
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