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OR THE POET'S FORETHOUGHT.
Of Prometheus, how undaunted
On Olympus’ shining bastions
Full of promptings and suggestions.
Beautiful is the tradition
Of that flight through heavenly portals, The old classic superstition Of the theft and the transmission
Of the fire of the Immortals !
First the deed of noble daring,
Born of heavenward aspiration, Then the fire with mortals sharing, Then the vulture,—the despairing
Cry of pain on crags Caucasian.
All is but a symbol painted
Of the Poet, Prophet, Seer;
Making nations nobler, freer.
In their feverish exultations,
In their triumph and their yearning,
The Promethean fire is burning.
Shall it, then, be unavailing,
All this toil for human culture ? Through the cloud-rack, dark and trailing, Must they see above them sailing
O’er life’s barren crags the vulture ?
Such a fate as this was Dante's,
By defeat and exile maddened ; Thus were Milton and Cervantes, Nature's priests and Corybantes,
By affliction touched and saddened.
But the glories so transcendent
That around their memories cluster, And, on all their steps attendant, Make their darkened lives resplendent
With such gleams of inward lustre !
All the melodies mysterious,
Through the dreary darkness chaunted;
Words that whispered, songs that haunted !
All the soul in rapt suspension,
All the quivering, palpitating Chords of life in utmost tension, With the fervor of invention,
With the rapture of creating !
Ah, Prometheus ! heaven-scaling !
In such hours of exultation
Round the cloudy crags Caucasian !