Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
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George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
 
The Price of the Divina Commedia
By Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910)
 
GIVE,—you need not see the face,
But the garment hangeth bare;
And the hand is gaunt and spare
That enforces Christian grace.
 
Many ages will not bring        5
Such a point as this to sight,
That the world should so requite
Master heart and matchless string.
 
Wonder at the well-born feet
Fretting in the flinty road.        10
Hath this virtue no abode?
Hath this sorrow no retreat?
 
See, beneath the hood of grief,
Muffled bays engird the brow.
Fame shall yield her topmost bough        15
Ere that laurel moult a leaf.
 
Give: it is no idle hand
That extends an asking palm,
Tracing yet the loftiest psalm
By the heart of Nature spanned.        20
 
In the antechamber long
Did he patient hearing crave:
Smiles and splendors crown the slave,
While the patriot suffers wrong.
 
Could the mighty audience deign,        25
Meeting once the inspired gaze,
They should ransom all their days
With the beauty of his strain.
 
With a spasm in his breast,
With a consummate love alone,        30
All his human blessings gone,
Doth he wander, void of rest.
 
Not a coin within his purse,
Not a crust to help his way,
Making yet a Judgment Day        35
With his power to bless and curse.
 
Give; but ask what he has given:
That Posterity shall tell,—
All the majesty of Hell;
Half the ecstasy of Heaven.        40
 
 
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