The Unattained

A vision beauteous as the morn,
With heavenly eyes and tresses streaming,
Slow glided o'er a field late shorn
Where walked a poet idly dreaming.
He saw her, and joy lit his face,
" Oh, vanish not at human speaking, "
He cried, " thou form of magic grace,
Thou art the poem I am seeking.

" I've sought thee long! I claim thee now —
My thought embodied, living, real. "
She shook the tresses from her brow.
" Nay, nay! " she said, " I am ideal.
I am the phantom of desire —
The spirit of all great endeavor,
I am the voice that says, " Come higher,"
That calls men up and up forever.

" 'T is not alone thy thought supreme
That here upon thy path has risen;
I am the artist's highest dream,
The ray of light he cannot prison.
I am the sweet ecstatic note
Than all glad music gladder, clearer,
That trembles in the singer's throat,
And dies without a human hearer.

" I am the greater, better yield,
That leads and cheers thy farmer neighbor,
For me he bravely tills the field
And whistles gayly at his labor.
Not thou alone, O poet soul,
Dost seek me through an endless morrow,
But to the toiling, hoping whole
I am at once the hope and sorrow.

The spirit of the unattained,
I am to those who seek to name me,
A good desired but never gained.
All shall pursue, but none shall claim me. "
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