Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
300. Inspiration
 
By Henry David Thoreau
 
 
IF with light head erect I sing,
Though all the Muses lend their force,
From my poor love of anything,
The verse is weak and shallow as its source.
 
But if with bended neck I grope        5
Listening behind me for my wit,
With faith superior to hope,
More anxious to keep back than forward it,—
 
Making my soul accomplice there
Unto the flame my heart hath lit,        10
Then will the verse forever wear,—
Time cannot bend the line which God has writ.
 
I hearing get, who had but ears,
And sight, who had but eyes before;
I moments live, who lived but years,        15
And truth discern, who knew but learning’s lore.
 
Now chiefly is my natal hour,
And only now my prime of life;
Of manhood’s strength it is the flower,
’T is peace’s end, and war’s beginning strife.        20
 
It comes in summer’s broadest noon,
By a gray wall, or some chance place,
Unseasoning time, insulting June,
And vexing day with its presuming face.
 
I will not doubt the love untold        25
Which not my worth nor want hath bought,
Which wooed me young, and wooes me old,
And to this evening hath me brought.
 

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