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O May I Join the Choir Invisible! and Other Favorite Poems   By: (1792-1822)

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Copyright by D. LOTHROP AND COMPANY 1884

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O may I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence; live In pulses stirred to generosity, In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn Of miserable aims that end with self, In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, And with their mild persistence urge men's minds To vaster issues.

So to live is heaven: To make undying music in the world, Breathing a beauteous order that controls With growing sway the growing life of man. So we inherit that sweet purity For which we struggled, failed and agonized With widening retrospect that bred despair. Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued, A vicious parent shaming still its child, Poor, anxious penitence is quick dissolved; Its discords, quenched by meeting harmonies, Die in the large and charitable air; And all our rarer, better, truer self, That sobbed religiously in yearning song, That watched to ease the burden of the world, Laboriously tracing what must be, And what may yet be better saw rather A worthier image for the sanctuary And shaped it forth before the multitude, Divinely human, raising worship so To higher reverence more mixed with love That better self shall live till human Time Shall fold its eyelids, and the human sky Be gathered like a scroll within the tomb Unread forever.

This is life to come, Which martyred men have made more glorious For us who strive to follow.

May I reach That purest heaven be to other souls The cup of strength in some great agony, Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love, Beget the smiles that have no cruelty, Be the sweet presence of a good diffused, And in diffusion ever more intense! So shall I join the choir invisible Whose music is the gladness of the world.


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I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris and he: I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; "Good speed!" cried the watch as the gate bolts undrew, "Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through. Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place; I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup and set the pique right, Rebuckled the check strap, chained slacker the bit, Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear; At Boom a great yellow star came out to see; At Duffeld 'twas morning as plain as could be; And from Mecheln church steeple we heard the half chime So Joris broke silence with "Yet there is time!"

At Aerschot up leaped of a sudden the sun, And against him the cattle stood black every one, To stare through the mist at us galloping past; And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last With resolute shoulders, each butting away The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray;

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track, And one eye's black intelligence ever that glance O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance; And the thick heavy spume flakes, which aye and anon His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay spur! Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her; "We'll remember at Aix" for one heard the quick wheeze Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees, And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank, As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So we were left galloping, Joris and I, Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky; The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh; 'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff; Till over by Delhem a dome spire sprung white, And "Gallop," gasped Joris, "for Aix is in sight!

"How they'll greet us!" and all in a moment his roan Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone; And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate, With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim, And with circles of red for his eye sockets' rim... Continue reading book >>

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