A Musical Instrument

A Musical Instrument
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I.
WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan, 
    Down in the reeds by the river ? 
Spreading ruin and scattering ban, 
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat, 
And breaking the golden lilies afloat 
    With the dragon-fly on the river. 

II.
He tore out a reed, the great god Pan, 
    From the deep cool bed of the river : 
The limpid water turbidly ran, 
And the broken lilies a-dying lay, 
And the dragon-fly had fled away, 
    Ere he brought it out of the river. 

III.
High on the shore sate the great god Pan, 
    While turbidly flowed the river ; 
And hacked and hewed as a great god can, 
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed, 
Till there was not a sign of a leaf indeed 
    To prove it fresh from the river. 

IV.
He cut it short, did the great god Pan, 
    (How tall it stood in the river !) 
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man, 
Steadily from the outside ring, 
And notched the poor dry empty thing 
    In holes, as he sate by the river. 

V.
This is the way,’ laughed the great god Pan, 
    Laughed while he sate by the river,) 
The only way, since gods began 
To make sweet music, they could succeed.’ 
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed, 
    He blew in power by the river. 

VI.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan ! 
    Piercing sweet by the river ! 
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan ! 
The sun on the hill forgot to die, 
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly 
    Came back to dream on the river. 

VII.
Yet half a beast is the great god Pan, 
    To laugh as he sits by the river, 
Making a poet out of a man : 
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, — 
For the reed which grows nevermore again 
    As a reed with the reeds in the river. 

Woodworker’s Ballad

Woodworker’s Ballad
Herbert Edward Palmer

ALL that is moulded of iron
Has lent to destruction and blood;
But the things that are honour’d of Zion
Are most of them made from wood.

Stone can be chisell’d to Beauty,
And iron shines bright for Defence;
But when Mother Earth ponder’d her duty
She brought forth the forest, from whence

Come tables, and chairs, and crosses,
Little things that a hot fire warps,
Old ships that the blue wave tosses,
And fiddles for music, and harps;

Oak boards where the carved ferns mingle,
Monks’ shrines in the wilderness,
Snug little huts in the dingle,
All things that the sad poets bless.

King Arthur had a wood table;
And Our Lord blessed wood; for, you see,
He was born in a wooden stable,
And He died on a wooden tree;

And He sailed in a wooden vessel
On the waters of Galilee,
And He work’d at a wooden trestle
At His wonderful carpentry.

Oh, all that is moulded of iron
Has lent to destruction and blood;
But the things that are honour’d of Zion
Are most of them made from wood.



Good Friday

Good Friday
By Christina Rossetti

AM I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy Cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

The Donkey

The Donkey
G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.

The Song of Callicles

The Song of Callicles
Matthew Arnold

Through the black, rushing smoke-bursts,
Thick breaks the red flame.
All Etna heaves fiercely
Her forest-clothed frame.

Not here, O Apollo!
Are haunts meet for thee.
But, where Helicon breaks down
In cliff to the sea.

Where the moon-silver’d inlets
Send far their light voice
Up the still vale of Thisbe,
O speed, and rejoice!

On the sward at the cliff-top,
Lie strewn the white flocks;
On the cliff-side, the pigeons
Roost deep in the rocks.

In the moonlight the shepherds,
Soft lull’d by the rills,
Lie wrapt in their blankets,
Asleep on the hills.

—What forms are these coming
So white through the gloom?
What garments out-glistening
The gold-flower’d broom?

What sweet-breathing Presence
Out-perfumes the thyme?
What voices enrapture
The night’s balmy prime?—

’Tis Apollo comes leading
His choir, The Nine.
—The Leader is fairest,
But all are divine.

They are lost in hollows.
They stream up again.
What seeks on this mountain
The glorified train?—

They bathe on this mountain,
In the spring by their road.
Then on to Olympus,
Their endless abode.

—Whose praise do they mention:
Of what is it told?—
What will be for ever.
What was from of old.

First hymn they the Father
Of all things: and then,
The rest of Immortals,
The action of men.

The Day in his hotness,
The strife with the palm;
The Night in her silence,
The Stars in their calm.

Farewells from Paradise

Farewells from Paradise
Elizabeth Barrett Browning


River-spirits
HARK! the flow of the four rivers—
Hark the flow!
How the silence round you shivers,
While our voices through it go,
Cold and clear.

A softer voice
Think a little, while ye hear,
Of the banks
Where the willows and the deer
Crowd in intermingled ranks,
As if all would drink at once
Where the living water runs!—
Of the fishes’ golden edges
Flashing in and out the sedges;
Of the swans on silver thrones,
Floating down the winding streams
With impassive eyes turned shoreward
And a chant of undertones,—
And the lotus leaning forward
To help them into dreams.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The river-sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden’s door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.
Farewell! the streams of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore!

Bird-spirit
I am the nearest nightingale
That singeth in Eden after you;
And I am singing loud and true,
And sweet,—I do not fail.
I sit upon a cypress bough,
Close to the gate, and I fling my song
Over the gate and through the mail
Of the warden angels marshall’d strong,—
Over the gate and after you!
And the warden angels let it pass,
Because the poor brown bird, alas,
Sings in the garden, sweet and true.
And I build my song of high pure notes,
Note over note, height over height,
Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,
And I bridge abysmal agonies
With strong, clear calms of harmonies,—
And something abides, and something floats,
In the song which I sing after you.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The creature-sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden’s door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some cadence which ye heard before.
Farewell! the birds of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore!