Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: I. Personal: Miscellaneous
Chopin
Emma Lazarus (1849–1887)
 
I.
A DREAM of interlinking hands, of feet
    Tireless to spin the unseen, fairy woof
Of the entangling waltz. Bright eyebeams meet,
    Gay laughter echoes from the vaulted roof.
Warm perfumes rise; the soft unflickering glow        5
    Of branching lights sets off the changeful charms
Of glancing gems, rich stuffs, the dazzling snow
    Of necks unkerchieft, and bare, clinging arms.
Hark to the music! How beneath the strain
    Of reckless revelry, vibrates and sobs        10
One fundamental chord of constant pain,
    The pulse-beat of the poet’s heart that throbs.
So yearns, though all the dancing waves rejoice,
The troubled sea’s disconsolate, deep voice.
 
II.
Who shall proclaim the golden fable false
        15
    Of Orpheus’ miracles? This subtle strain
    Above our prose world’s sordid loss and gain
Lightly uplifts us. With the rhythmic waltz,
The lyric prelude, the nocturnal song
    Of love and languor, varied visions rise,        20
    That melt and blend to our enchanted eyes.
The Polish poet who sleeps silenced long,
    The seraph-souled musician, breathes again
    Eternal eloquence, immortal pain.
Revived the exalted face we know so well,        25
    The illuminated eyes, the fragile frame,
    Slowly consuming with its inward flame—
We stir not, speak not, lest we break the spell.
 
III.
A voice was needed, sweet and true and fine
    As the sad spirit of the evening breeze,        30
Throbbing with human passion, yet divine
    As the wild bird’s untutored melodies.
A voice for him ’neath twilight heavens dim,
    Who mourneth for his dead, while round him fall
The wan and noiseless leaves. A voice for him        35
    Who sees the first green sprout, who hears the call
Of the first robin on the first spring day.
    A voice for all whom Fate hath set apart,
Who, still misprized, must perish by the way,
    Longing with love, for that they lack the art        40
Of their own soul’s expression. For all these
Sing the unspoken hope, the vague, sad reveries.
 
IV.
Then Nature shaped a poet’s heart,—a lyre
    From out whose chords the slightest breeze that blows
Drew trembling music, wakening sweet desire.        45
    How shall she cherish him? Behold! she throws
This precious, fragile treasure in the whirl
    Of seething passions: he is scourged and stung;
Must dive in storm-vext seas, if but one pearl
    Of art or beauty therefrom may be wrung.        50
No pure-browed pensive nymph his Muse shall be:
    An Amazon of thought with sovereign eyes,
    Whose kiss was poison, man-brained, worldly-wise,
Inspired that elfin, delicate harmony.
    Rich gain for us! But with him is it well?—        55
    The poet who must sound earth, heaven, and hell!
 
 
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