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The poet, looking back upon the hopes he has cherished, per ceives that he has fallen tar short of achieving them. The songs he has sung are less sweet than those he has dreamed of singing; the wishes he has wrought into facts are less noble than those that are yet unfulfilled. But he looks forward to the time when all that he desires for humankind shall yet come to pass. The praise will not be his; it will belong to others. Still, he does not envy those who are destined to succeed where he failed. Rather does he rejoice that through them his hopes for the race will be realized. And he is happy that by longing for just such a triumph he shares in it-he makes it his triumph.
Hail to the coming singers!
The airs of heaven blow o'er me;
A dream of man and woman
The love of God and neighbor;
The richer life, where beauty
Ring, bells in unreared steeples,
Parcel and part of all,
I feel the earth move sunward,
John Greenleaf Whittier.
TO ALTHEA FROM PRISON
n the great Civil War in England between the Puritans and Charles the First the author of this poem sacrificed everything in the royal cause. That cause was defeated and Lovelace was imprisoned. In these stanzas he makes the most of his gloomy situation and sings the joys of various kinds of freedom. First is the freedom brought by love, when his sweetheart speaks to him through the grate of the dungeon. Second is the freedom brought by the recollection of good fellowship, when tried and true comrades took their wine straight-"with no allaying Thames." Third is the freedom brought by remembrance of the king for whom he was suffering. Finally comes the passionate and heroic assertion that though the body of a man may be confined, nevertheless his spirit can remain free and chainless.
HEN Love with unconfinéd wings
And my divine Althea brings
When flowing cups run swiftly round
Our careless heads with roses bound,
When healths and draughts go free
When (like committed linnets) I
When I shall voice aloud how good
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Shakespeare says: "I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching." This is especially true regarding grief or affliction. "Man was born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward," but we bid other people bear their sorrows manfully; we should therefore bear ours with equal courage.
UPON there a dulling knife;
PON this trouble shall I whet my life
Bade I my friend be brave?
I shall still braver be.
No man shall say of me,
"Others he saved, himself he cannot save."
As the Primeval word that smote the night-
Courage shall leap from me, a gallant sword
Cleaving a kingly pathway through despair.
From "Forward, March!"
THE RECTIFYING YEARS
Time brings the deeper understanding that clears up our misconceptions; it shows us the error of our hates; it dispels our worries and our fears; it allays the grief that seemed too poignant to be borne.
7ES, things are more or less amiss;
To-day it's that, to-morrow this;
What we shall have's not what we've got;
Change, like a sky that clouds, that clears,
Uneven things not leveled down
Then envy, hate towards man or class