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Wordsworth, W. 1828. On the power of sound. [Poem]. 
Added by: sirfragalot (1/19/16, 12:33 PM)   
Resource type: Miscellaneous
BibTeX citation key: Wordsworth1828
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Categories: General
Keywords: Ambiguity, Poetics
Creators: Wordsworth
Views: 1/294
Quotes
  
          THY functions are ethereal,
          As if within thee dwelt a glancing mind,
          Organ of vision! And a Spirit aerial
          Informs the cell of Hearing, dark and blind;
          Intricate labyrinth, more dread for thought
          To enter than oracular cave;
          Strict passage, through which sighs are brought,
          And whispers for the heart, their slave;
          And shrieks, that revel in abuse
          Of shivering flesh; and warbled air,
          Whose piercing sweetness can unloose
          The chains of frenzy, or entice a smile
          Into the ambush of despair;
          Hosannas pealing down the long-drawn aisle,
          And requiems answered by the pulse that beats
          Devoutly, in life's last retreats!

II

The headlong streams and fountains Serve Thee, invisible Spirit, with untired powers; Cheering the wakeful tent on Syrian mountains, They lull perchance ten thousand thousand flowers. 'That' roar, the prowling lion's 'Here I am', How fearful to the desert wide! That bleat, how tender! of the dam Calling a straggler to her side. Shout, cuckoo!--let the vernal soul Go with thee to the frozen zone; Toll from thy loftiest perch, lone bell-bird, toll! At the still hour to Mercy dear, Mercy from her twilight throne Listening to nun's faint throb of holy fear, To sailor's prayer breathed from a darkening sea, Or widow's cottage-lullaby.

III

Ye Voices, and ye Shadows And Images of voice--to hound and horn From rocky steep and rock-bestudded meadows Flung back, and; in the sky's blue caves, reborn-- On with your pastime! till the church-tower bells A greeting give of measured glee; And milder echoes from their cells Repeat the bridal symphony. Then, or far earlier, let us rove Where mists are breaking up or gone, And from aloft look down into a cove Besprinkled with a careless quire, Happy milk-maids, one by one Scattering a ditty each to her desire, A liquid concert matchless by nice Art, A stream as if from one full heart.

IV

Blest be the song that brightens The blind man's gloom, exalts the veteran's mirth; Unscorned the peasant's whistling breath, that lightens His duteous toil of furrowing the green earth. For the tired slave, Song lifts the languid oar, And bids it aptly fall, with chime That beautifies the fairest shore, And mitigates the harshest clime. Yon pilgrims see--in lagging file They move; but soon the appointed way A choral 'Ave Marie' shall beguile, And to their hope the distant shrine Glisten with a livelier ray: Nor friendless he, the prisoner of the mine, Who from the well-spring of his own clear breast Can draw, and sing his griefs to rest.

V

When civic renovation Dawns on a kingdom, and for needful haste Best eloquence avails not, Inspiration Mounts with a tune, that travels like a blast Piping through cave and battlemented tower; Then starts the sluggard, pleased to meet That voice of Freedom, in its power Of promises, shrill, wild, and sweet! Who, from a martial 'pageant', spreads Incitements of a battle-day, Thrilling the unweaponed crowd with plumeless heads?-- Even She whose Lydian airs inspire Peaceful striving, gentle play Of timid hope and innocent desire Shot from the dancing Graces, as they move Fanned by the plausive wings of Love.

VI

How oft along thy mazes, Regent of sound, have dangerous Passions trod! O Thou, through whom the temple rings with praises, And blackening clouds in thunder speak of God, Betray not by the cozenage of sense Thy votaries, wooingly resigned To a voluptuous influence That taints the purer, better, mind; But lead sick Fancy to a harp That hath in noble tasks been tried; And, if the virtuous feel a pang too sharp, Soothe it into patience,--stay The uplifted arm of Suicide; And let some mood of thine in firm array Knit every thought the impending issue needs, Ere martyr burns, or patriot bleeds!

VII

As Conscience, to the centre Of being, smites with irresistible pain So shall a solemn cadence, if it enter The mouldy vaults of the dull idiot's brain, Transmute him to a wretch from quiet hurled-- Convulsed as by a jarring din; And then aghast, as at the world Of reason partially let in By concords winding with a sway Terrible for sense and soul! Or, awed he weeps, struggling to quell dismay. Point not these mysteries to an Art Lodged above the starry pole; Pure modulations flowing from the heart Of divine Love, where Wisdom, Beauty, Truth With Order dwell, in endless youth?

VIII

Oblivion may not cover All treasures hoarded by the miser, Time. Orphean Insight! truth's undaunted lover, To the first leagues of tutored passion climb, When Music deigned within this grosser sphere Her subtle essence to enfold, And voice and shell drew forth a tear Softer than Nature's self could mould. Yet 'strenuous' was the infant Age: Art, daring because souls could feel, Stirred nowhere but an urgent equipage Of rapt imagination sped her march Through the realms of woe and weal: Hell to the lyre bowed low; the upper arch Rejoiced that clamorous spell and magic verse Her wan disasters could disperse.

IX

The GIFT to king Amphion That walled a city with its melody Was for belief no dream:--thy skill, Arion! Could humanise the creatures of the sea, Where men were monsters. A last grace he craves, Leave for one chant;--the dulcet sound Steals from the deck o'er willing waves, And listening dolphins gather round. Self-cast, as with a desperate course, 'Mid that strange audience, he bestrides A proud One docile as a managed horse; And singing, while the accordant hand Sweeps his harp, the Master rides; So shall he touch at length a friendly strand, And he, with his preserver, shine star-bright In memory, through silent night.

X

The pipe of Pan, to shepherds Couched in the shadow of Maenalian pines, Was passing sweet; the eyeballs of the leopards, That in high triumph drew the Lord of vines, How did they sparkle to the cymbal's clang! While Fauns and Satyrs beat the ground In cadence,--and Silenus swang This way and that, with wild-flowers crowned. To life, to 'life' give back thine ear: Ye who are longing to be rid Of fable, though to truth subservient, hear The little sprinkling of cold earth that fell Echoed from the coffin-lid; The convict's summons in the steeple's knell; "The vain distress-gun," from a leeward shore, Repeated--heard, and heard no more!

XI

For terror, joy, or pity, Vast is the compass and the swell of notes: From the babe's first cry to voice of regal city, Rolling a solemn sea-like bass, that floats Far as the woodlands--with the trill to blend Of that shy songstress, whose love-tale Might tempt an angel to descend, While hovering o'er the moonlight vale. Ye wandering Utterances, has earth no scheme, No scale of moral music--to unite Powers that survive but in the faintest dream Of memory?--O that ye might stoop to bear Chains, such precious chains of sight As laboured minstrelsies through ages wear! O for a balance fit the truth to tell Of the Unsubstantial, pondered well!

XII

By one pervading spirit Of tones and numbers all things are controlled, As sages taught, where faith was found to merit Initiation in that mystery old. The heavens, whose aspect makes our minds as still As they themselves appear to be, Innumerable voices fill With everlasting harmony; The towering headlands, crowned with mist, Their feet among the billows, know That Ocean is a mighty harmonist; Thy pinions, universal Air, Ever waving to and fro, Are delegates of harmony, and bear Strains that support the Seasons in their round; Stern Winter loves a dirge-like sound.

XIII

Break forth into thanksgiving, Ye banded instruments of wind and chords Unite, to magnify the Ever-living, Your inarticulate notes with the voice of words! Nor hushed be service from the lowing mead, Nor mute the forest hum of noon; Thou too be heard, lone eagle! freed From snowy peak and cloud, attune Thy hungry barkings to the hymn Of joy, that from her utmost walls The six-days' Work, by flaming Seraphim Transmits to Heaven! As Deep to Deep Shouting through one valley calls, All worlds, all natures, mood and measure keep For praise and ceaseless gratulation, poured Into the ear of God, their Lord!

XIV

A Voice to Light gave Being; To Time, and Man, his earth-born chronicler; A Voice shall finish doubt and dim foreseeing, And sweep away life's visionary stir; The trumpet (we, intoxicate with pride, Arm at its blast for deadly wars) To archangelic lips applied, The grave shall open, quench the stars. O Silence! are Man's noisy years No more than moments of thy life? Is Harmony, blest queen of smiles and tears, With her smooth tones and discords just, Tempered into rapturous strife, Thy destined bond-slave? No! though earth be dust And vanish, though the heavens dissolve, her stay Is in the WORD, that shall not pass away.
  Added by: sirfragalot
Keywords:   Ambiguity Poetics
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