The Muse in Exile

Verse —a light handful—verse again I bring;
Verse that perhaps had glowed with lustier hues
Amid more fostering air: for it was born
In the penurious sunshine of an Age
That does not stone her prophets, but, alas,
Turns, to their next of kin, the singers, oft
An ear of stone: in bare, bleak truth an Age
That banishes the poets, as he of old,
The great child of the soul of Socrates,
Out of his visionary commonwealth
Banished them; for she drives them coldly forth
From where alone they yearn to live—her heart;
Scourges them with the scourge of apathy,
From out her bosom's rich metropolis,
To a distant, desert province of her thoughts,
A region grey and pale: or, crueller still,
Gives them, at times, gusts of applause, and then
Remands them to new frosts of unconcern;
Nay, to atone for some brief generous hour,
Holds back their dues, husbands the heartening word,
Until they dwell where praise cheers not the praised,
And scorn and honour are received in like
Silence, and laurel and poppy are as one.
Let me not slight her. Let me not do wrong
To her whose child I am: this giant Age,
Cumbered with her own hugeness as is the wont
Of giants. Yet too openly she herself
Hath slighted one of Time's great offspring: she
Hath slighted Song; and Song will be avenged:
Song will survive her; Song will follow her hearse,
And either weep or dance upon her grave.
For in Life's midmost chamber there still burns
Upon the ancient hearth the ancient fire,
Whence are all flamelike things, the unquenchable Muse
Among them, who, though meanly lodged to-day,
In dreariest outlands of the world's regard,
Foresees the hour when Man shall once more feel
His need of her, and call the exile home.
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