Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Song of the Human Spirit
By Edgar Lee Masters
 
From “Canticle of the Race”

HOW beautiful is the human spirit
In its vase of clay!
It takes no thought of the chary dole
Of the light of day.
It labors and loves as it were a soul        5
Whom the gods repay
With length of life and a golden goal
At the end of the way.
 
There are souls I know who arch a dome,
And tunnel a hill.        10
They chisel in marble and fashion in chrome,
And measure the sky.
They find the good and destroy the ill,
And they bend and ply
The laws of nature out of a will        15
While the fates deny.
 
I wonder and worship the human spirit
When I behold
Numbers and symbols, and how they reach
Through steel and gold;        20
A harp, a battle-ship, thought and speech,
And an hour foretold.
It ponders its nature to turn and teach,
And itself to mould.
 
The human spirit is God, no doubt,        25
In flesh made the word:
Jesus, Beethoven and Raphael,
And the souls who heard
Beyond the rim of the world the swell
Of an ocean stirred        30
By a Power on the waters inscrutable.
There are souls who gird
Their loins in faith that the world is well,
In a faith unblurred.
How beautiful is the human spirit—        35
The flesh made the word!
 
 
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