MASTERS twain of Wont and Use
It is time to set me loose
Who have worn your galling chain
Till my wrists are girt with pain,
Served you well — O words which curse ;
Would that I had served you worse! —
Not to you alone my duty.
Am I not the thrall of Beauty ?
I have said her “ Nay ” too long —
May she pardon me the wrong.
She has called to me and waited.
I will be emancipated.
First to feel that I am free
I must hie me to the sea ;
Glad as any bird that sings
Will my spirit find its wings.
Floating there ’twixt deep and deep
I shall waken as from sleep,
On my brow to know the chrism
Of the spray in new baptism,
Like a child to laugh and wonder
At the crashing ocean thunder.
Then away where twilight spills
In the hollows of the hills
Pools of palest purple wine,
And the purple columbine
Fastens fairy bells to nod,
Broidering with bloom the sod
That goes groping up to God.
Jealous masters Wont and Use,
Let your wretched servants loose.
Very heavy is the chain
That has girt their flesh with pain.
They have labored for their bread
Which they eat and are not fed ;
They have listened to “ Thou must,”
And go downward to the dust.
Toil their hands to what avail
If their hearts grow faint and fail ?
Grant us freedom from our care
That we be not unaware
Of the flush of dawn so tender
And the sunset’s awful splendor,
The perfection that uncloses
With the crimson summer roses,
Looks that startle from the features
Of earth’s humblest human creatures ;
All the loveliness supernal,
All the echoes of Eternal
Music that the soul surprise
And forever tantalize.
Long, too long, has Beauty waited.
Let us be emancipated.
Alice Lena Cole.