AND can it be ?
The heart that in the earth’s far dawn knew God;
The thought that seized the circling of the stars;
The soul of fire that on that hill of Athens
Builded immortal beauty; the brain enorm
That peopled for all men and for all time
A world Shakesperean; and can it be ? —
The mind imperial named Beethoven,
Majestically chanting harmonies
That hold the motions of the rhythmic worlds,
And to far doomsday stir all living hearts;
And he the framer of earth’s mightiest dome,
Painter sublime and poet marvelous,
Who carved the likeness of his soul in stone,
And in cold marble the hot heart of man
Imprisoned eternally; and can it be?
These, these and all the potencies of time
Which throbbed in human form; and can it be
That the intensive fire that made them men,—
Not trees, nor creeping beasts, nor stones, nor stars, —
And gave identity to every soul,
Making it individual and alone
Among the myriads; and can it be
That when the mortal framework failed, — that fire
Which flamed in separate and lonely life,
These souls, slipped out of being and were lost,
Eternally extinguished and cast out, —
Only to some obscure electric wave
Giving new force, to some stray flower new grace,
Unto some lover’s vow more ardency;
Making some island sunset more intense,
Passing from fiery thought to chemic heat, —
But all the universe empty of that one high
And exquisite accomplishment and power,
Forever and forever, — Can it be?