"Touch him ne'er so lightly"

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"Touch him ne'er so lightly"  (1880) 
by Robert Browning
Epilogue to Dramatic Idyls, Second Series



"Touch him ne'er so lightly, into song he broke:
Soil so quick-receptive, — not one feather-seed,
Not one flower-dust fell but straight its fall awoke
Vitalizing virtue: song would song succeed
Sudden as spontaneous — prove a poet-soul!"
                                                                 Indeed?
Rock's the song-soil rather, surface hard and bare:
Sun and dew their mildness, storm and frost their rage
Vainly both expend, — few flowers awaken there:
Quiet in its cleft broods — what the after-age
Knows and names a pine, a nation's heritage.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.