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The Spirit Of The Ideal Post by :santosrod Category :Poems Author :Denis Florence Maccarthy Date :October 2011 Read :605

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The Spirit Of The Ideal

Sweet sister spirits, ye whose starlight tresses
Stream on the night-winds as ye float along,
Missioned with hope to man--and with caresses

To slumbering babes--refreshment to the strong--
And grace the sensuous soul that it's arrayed in:
As the light burden of melodious song

Weighs down a poet's words;--as an o'erladen
Lily doth bend beneath its own pure snow;
Or with its joy, the free heart of a maiden:--

Thus, I behold your outstretched pinions grow
Heavy with all the priceless gifts and graces
God through thy ministration doth bestow.

Do ye not plant the rose on youthful faces?
And rob the heavens of stars for Beauty's eyes?
Do ye not fold within love's pure embraces

All that Omnipotence doth yet devise
For human bliss, or rapture superhuman--
Heaven upon earth, and earth still in the skies?

Do ye not sow the fruitful heart of woman
With tenderest charities and faith sincere,
To feed man's sterile soul and to illumine

His duller eyes, that else might settle here,
With the bright promise of a purer region--
A starlight beacon to a starry sphere?

Are they not all thy children, that bright legion--
Of aspirations, and all hopeful sighs
That in the solemn train of grave Religion

Strew heavenly flowers before man's longing eyes,
And make him feel, as o'er life's sea he wendeth,
The far-off odorous airs of Paradise?--

Like to the breeze some flowery island sendeth
Unto the seaman, ere its bowers are seen,
Which tells him soon his weary wandering endeth--

Soon shall he rest, in bosky shades of green,
By daisied meadows prankt with dewy flowers,
With ever-running rivulets between.

These are thy tasks, my sisters--these the powers
God in his goodness gives into thy hands:--
'Tis from thy fingers fall the diamond showers

Of budding Spring, and o'er the expectant lands
June's odorous purple and rich Autumn's gold:
And even when needful Winter wide expands

His fallow wings, and winds blow sharp and cold
From the harsh east, 'tis thine, o'er all the plain,
The leafless woodlands and the unsheltered wold,

Gently to drop the flakes of feathery rain--
Heaven's warmest down--around the slumbering seeds,
And o'er the roots the frost-blanched counterpane.

What though man's careless eye but little heeds
Even the effects, much less the remoter cause,
Still, in the doing of beneficent deeds--

By God and his Vicegerent Nature's laws--
Ever a compensating joy is found.
Think ye the rain-drop heedeth if it draws

Rankness as well as Beauty from the ground?
Or that the sullen wind will deign to wake
Only Aeolian melodies of sound--

And not the stormy screams that make men quake
Thus do ye act, my sisters; thus ye do
Your cheerful duty for the doing's sake--

Not unrewarded surely--not when you
See the successful issue of your charms,
Bringing the absent back again to view--

Giving the loved one to the lover's arms--
Smoothing the grassy couch in weary age--
Hushing in death's great calm a world's alarms.

I, I alone upon the earth's vast stage
Am doomed to act an unrequited part--
I, the unseen preceptress of the sage--

I, whose ideal form doth win the heart
Of all whom God's vocation hath assigned
To wear the sacred vesture of high Art--

To pass along the electric sparks of mind
From age to age, from race to race, until
The expanding truth encircles all mankind.

What without me were all the poet's skill?--
Dead, sensuous form without the quickening soul.
What without me the instinctive aim of will?--

A useless magnet pointing to no pole.
What the fine ear and the creative hand?
Most potent spirits free from man's control.

I, THE IDEAL, by the poet stand
When all his soul o'erflows with holy fire,
When currents of the beautiful and grand

Run glittering down along each burning wire
Until the heart of the great world doth feel
The electric shock of his God-kindled lyre:--

Then rolls the thunderous music peal on peal,
Or in the breathless after-pause, a strain
Simpler and sweeter through the hush doth steal--

Like to the pattering drops of summer rain
Or rustling grass, when fragrance fills the air
And all the groves are vocal once again:

Whatever form, whatever shape I bear,
The Spirit of high Impulse, and the Soul
Of all conceptions beautiful and rare,

Am I; who now swift spurning all control,
On rapid wings--the Ariel of the Muse--
Dart from the dazzling centre to the pole;

Now in the magic mimicry of hues
Such as surround God's golden throne, descend
In Titian's skies the boundaries to confuse

Betwixt earth's heaven and heaven's own heaven to blend
In Raphael's forms the human and divine,
Where spirit dawns, and matter seems to end.

Again on wings of melody, so fine
They mock the sight, but fall upon the ear
Like tuneful rose-leaves at the day's decline--

And with the music of a happier sphere
Entrance some master of melodious sound,
Till startled men the hymns of angels hear.

Happy for me when, in the vacant round
Of barren ages, one great steadfast soul
Faithful to me and to his art is found.

But, ah! my sisters, with my grief condole;
Join in my sorrows and respond my sighs;
And let your sobs the funeral dirges toll;

Weep those who falter in the great emprise--
Who, turning off upon some poor pretence,
Some worthless guerdon or some paltry prize,

Down from the airy zenith through the immense
Sink to the low expedients of an hour,
And barter soul for all the slough of sense,--

Just when the mind had reached its regal power,
And fancy's wing its perfect plume unfurl'd,--
Just when the bud of promise in the flower

Of all completeness opened on the world--
When the pure fire that heaven itself outflung
Back to its native empyrean curled,

Like vocal incense from a censer swung:--
Ah, me! to be subdued when all seemed won--
That I should fly when I would fain have clung.

Yet so it is,--our radiant course is run;--
Here we must part, the deathless lay unsung,
And, more than all, the deathless deed undone.


(The end)
Denis Florence MacCarthy's poem: Spirit Of The Ideal

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