The Young Man's Song
At last the curse has run its date!
The heavens grow clear above,
And on the purple plains of Hate,
We'll build the throne of Love!
One great heroic reign divine
Shall mock the Elysian isles,
And love in arms shall only shine
Less fair than Love in smiles!
Old Clio, burn thine ancient scroll,
The scroll of Rome and Greece!
Our war shall be a parable
On all the texts of peace,
And saints look down, with eyes of praise,
Where on our modern field
The new Samaritan forelays
The wrongs that other healed!
What virtue is beyond our prize?
What deed beneath you sun
More Godlike than the prodigies
We mortal men have done
We wearied of the lagging steed,
The dove had not a quill
To fledge the imaginable speed
Of our wild shaft of will;
'Ah, could each word be winged with wind,
And speech be swift as sight!'
We cursed the long arms of that blind
Dumb herald on the height,
Dark struggling with a mystery
He daily hid in shades,
As a ghost steams up on the eye,
Begins a Fate and fades.
'If, like a man, dull space could hear!
If, like a man, obey!'
We seized this earthly hemisphere,
This senseless skull of clay.
We drew from Heaven a breath of flame,
And thro' the lifeless whole
Did breathe it till the orb became
One brain of burning soul.
As he o'er whom a tyrant reigns,
It waits our sovran word,
And thinks along the living veins
The lightnings of its lord!
What Force can meet our matchless might?
What Power is not our slave?
We bound the angel of the light,
We scourged him in a cave.
And when we saw the prisoner pine
For his immortal land,
We wrung a ransom, half divine,
From that celestial hand
Whose skill the heavy chain subdued,
And all a captive's woe
Did tame to such a tempered good
As mortal eyes can know.
Who comes, who comes, o'er mountains laid,
Vales lifted, straightened ways?
'Tis he! the mightier horse we made
To serve our nobler days!
But now, unheard, I saw afar
His cloud of windy mane,
Now, level as a blazing star,
He thunders thro' the plain!
The life he needs, the food he loves,
This cold earth bears no more;
He fodders on the eternal groves
That heard the dragons roar,
Strong with the feast he roars and runs,
And, in his maw unfurled,
Evolves the folded fires of suns
That lit a grander world!
Yon bird, the swiftest in the sky,
Before him sprang, but he
Has passed her as a wind goes by
A struggler in the sea.
With forward beak and forward blows,
She slides back from his side;
While ever as the monster goes,
With needless power and pride,
Disdainful from his fiery jaws
He snorts his vital heat,
And, easy as his shadow, draws,
Long-drawn, the living street.
He's gone! Methinks that over him,
Like Curtius in the abyss,
I see great gulphs close rim to rim,
And Past and Future kiss!
Oh, Man! as from the flood sublime
Some alp rose calm and slow,
So from the exhaling floods of time
I see thy stature grow.
Long since thy royal brow, uncrowned,
Allegiant nature saw,
Long since thine eye of empire frowned
The heavenly thrones to awe;
And now the monarch's breast apart
Divides the sinking spray,
Fit dome for such gigantic heart
As warms so vast a sway.
Far o'er the watery wilds I see
Thy great right-arm upsurge,
Thy right-hand, armed with victory,
Is sunburst on the verge!
Arise, arise! oh, sword! and sweep
One universal morn!
Another throe, thou labouring Deep,
And all the god is born!
So sang a youth of glorious blood.
Below, the wind-hawk shook her wings,
And lower, in its kingdom, stood
A tower of ancient kings.
Above, the autumn sky was blue,
Far round the golden world was fair,
And, gun by gun, the ramparts blew
A battle on the air.
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