Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
December 16
Beethoven
By John Hall Ingham (1860–1931)
 
(Born December 16, 1770)

I.
THOU dost not sing of sorrow, being too vast
For puny personalities of woe;
Nor yet of joy: thy fateful measures flow
From springs too deep to sparkle, overcast
With midnight and immensity. The past        5
Is not thy theme, for all thy concords glow
With living fervor. And this present show
Seems lost in thy infinity at last.
 
What is thy message, what thy mystery?
—Or shall we ask what doctrine gilds the day;        10
What creed the clouds unfold,—the hills, the sea?
All things they tell,—or nothing. He alone
Who loves can learn, when Nature points the way
Or thou dost breathe the beautiful in tone.
 
II.
Yet thou hast gentler moments when thy might,
        15
No longer tuned to a supernal key,
Is modulated by humanity;
And in thy symphony the other night
A hero’s clarion sounded through the fight,
A maiden’s laughter rippled peacefully,        20
And love and sorrow woke a threnody
To speed a deathless spirit in its flight.
 
O sweetly human, splendidly divine!—
Not like a turbid torrent threading far
And fathomless abysses, thou dost shine        25
A clear, full flood wherein we joy to scan
The cloud, the snowy summit and the star,—
The flower, the forest and the face of man.
 
 
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