To a Lady of Genius

Imbued with the seraphic fire
To wake the music of the lyre,
To love — to know — and to aspire: —

Thou seist in thy truthful dream
All Nature robed in light supreme,
And thou wouldst carol in the beam.

Happy — yet most unhappy still!
I dread to think what good and ill,
What joy and grief thy heart shall fill!

Think, ere thou choose such high career,
If thou hast strength to persevere,
And scale the summit, cold and clear.

Great shall thy pleasures be — thy soul
Shall chant with planets as they roll,
Made one with Nature — part and whole.

The clouds that flush the morning sky,
The wind that woos the branches high,
The leaves that whisper and reply;

The heart of every living thing,
The flowers that gem the breast of spring,
The russet birds that soar and sing;

The pendulous click of night and day,
The change of seasons as they play
In heavenly unison alway;

The summer's sigh, the winter's roar,
The beat of billows on the shore,
Making deep music evermore;

All sight, all sound, all sense shall be
The fountains of thy ecstasy,
And daily minister to thee;

To thee the past shall disengage
The wisdom of its darkest page,
And give it for thy heritage;

The present with its hopes and fears,
Its struggles, triumphs, smiles, and tears,
And glory of the coming years;

All shall be giv'n to feed thy mind
With Love and Pity for thy kind,
And every sympathy refined.

All these, and more, shall be thine own,
And round thine intellectual throne
Th' applause of nations shall be blown.

Thy words shall fill the mouths of men,
The written lightnings of thy pen
Shall flash upon their wondering ken.

Oh Fate — oh Privilege sublime!
And art thou tempted? Wilt thou climb?
Young genius! budding to thy prime?

Reflect: — and weigh the loss and gain;
All Joy is counterpoised by Pain: —
And nothing charms which we attain.

Who loves the music of the spheres
And lives on Earth, must close his ears
To many voices which he hears.

'Tis evermore the finest sense
That feels the anguish most intense
At daily outrage, gross and dense.

The greater joy, the keener grief,
Of Nature's balances, the chief,
She grants nor favor, nor relief.

And vain, most vain, is youthful trust,
For men are evermore unjust
To their superior fellow-dust, —

And ever turn malicious eyes
On those whom most they idolize,
And break their hearts with calumnies.

Their slanders, like the tempest stroke,
May leave the cowslip's stem unbroke,
But rend the branches of the oak.

If Genius live, 'tis made a slave —
And if it die, the true and brave —
Men pluck its heart out on its grave,

And then dissect it for the throng,
And say, " 'twas this, — so weak, or strong,
That poured such living floods of song."

Each fault of genius is a crime,
For Cant or Folly to beslime —
Sent drifting on the stream of Time.

Wouldst thou escape such cruel fate,
And thou a woman? watch and wait, —
But seek — oh seek not — to be great.

But if thou lovest song so well
That thou must sing, though this befell
And worse than this, ineffable, —

May all good angels keep thy heart
Pure to itself, and to thine art,
And shield it from the poison dart, —

That when thou sittest on the height,
Thy song may be its own delight,
And cheer thee in the world's despite.
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