To One Impatient of Form in Art


CHIDE not the poet that he strives for beauty,
If still forthright he chants the thing he would, —
If still he knows, nor can escape, the dire
Necessity and burden of straight speech;
Not his the fault should music haunt the line,
If to the marrow cleaves the lyric knife.
Who poured the violent ocean, and who called
Earthquake and tempest and the crash of doom,
He spread the sea all beautiful at dawn,
And curved the bright bow ’gainst the black, spent storm, —
He framed these late and lovely violets
That under autumn leaves surprise the heart.
Blame not the seeker of beauty if his soul
Seeks it, in reverent and determined quest,
And in the sacred love of loveliness
Which God the all-giver gave — and satisfies;
Fearing lest he match not life’s poignant breath
And the keen beauty of the blossoming day.
No poet he who knows not the great joy
That pulses in the flow and rush of rhythm
(Rhythm which is the seed and life of life,
And of all art the root, and branch, and bloom),
Knows not the strength that comes when vibrant thought
Beats ’gainst the bounds of fixéd time and space;
For law unto the master is pure freedom,
The prison-house a garden of delight.
So doth the blown breath from the bugle’s walls
Issue in most triumphant melody;
So doth the impassioned poet’s perfect verse,
Confined in law eterne outshine the stars.