Ode to Music

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Ode to Music  (1912) 
by Clark Ashton Smith
1912.

O woven fabric and bright web of sound,
Whose threads are magical,
And with swift weaving thrall
And hold the spirit bound!
We may not know whence thy strange sorceries fall—
Whether they be Earth's voices wild and strong,
Her high and perfect song,
Or broken dreams of higher worlds unfound.
For, lo, thou art as dreams,
And to thy realm all hidden things belong—
All fugitive and evanescent gleams
The soul hath vainly sought;
All mystic immanence;
All visions of ungrasped magnificence,
And great ideals pinnacled in thought;
All paths with marvel fraught
That lead to lands obscure:
For, lo, upon thy road of sound we pass,
Seeking thy magic lure,
To vales mist-implicated and unsure,
Where all seems strange as visions in a glass;
And wonder-haunted hills,
Where Beauty is an echo and a dream
In sighing pines, and rills
Clouded and deep with imaged tree and sky;
And where bright rivers gleam
Past cities towering high,
Each wonderful as some cloud-fantasy.

Thou looseneth the bodage of the years,
Making the spirit free
Of all sublunar joys and fears.
Who mounts on thine imperious wings shall see
The ways of life as threads of day and night;
Serene above their change,
His eyes shall know but far transcendant things,
His ears shall hark but voices free and strange;
Vast seas of outer light
Shall break upon his sight,
Eternal winds shall touch him with their wings;
His heart shall thrill
To larger, purer joy, and grief more deep
Than earth may know;
And e'en as dews of morning fill
The opened flower, into his soul shall flow
High melodies, like tears that angels weep.
Then shall he penetrate
The veils and outer barriers of sound,
And near the soul of melody,
Where, rapt in aural splendors ultimate,
His soul shall see
The marvel and the glory that surround
Eternal Beauty's shrine;
And catch afar the glint divine
Of her moon-colored robe, or haply hear,
With world-oblivious ear,
Some echo of her voice's mystery.

Thou hast Love's power to find
The soul's most secret chords, that else were still,
And stir'st them till they thrill
Disclosed to least, faint movements of thy wind.
Thine aural sorcery
O'erwhelms the heart as sunset storms the sight,
For thou art Beauty bodied forth in sound—
Her colors bright
And diverse forms expressed in harmony:
Within thy bound,
The flare of morning is become a song,
And tree and flower a music sweet and long.
And in thy speech
The power and majesty that swing
Planet and sun, and each
Dim atom of the system manifest,
Become articulate, expressed
Like ocean in the brooklet's whispering.
Beyond the woof of finite things,
Thy threads of wonder deep-entangled lie—
Time's intertexturings
Within Eternity—
With Song, mayhap, to be his memories;
For Beauty borders nigh
The ultimate, eternal Verities.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1961, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.