Poems (Coates 1916)/Volume I/I Heard a Voice

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For other versions of this work, see I Heard a Voice.


I HEARD a voice say: "You,
Who worship, should pursue:
The good you dream of—do.

"Arise!—perfection seek.
Surmounting what is weak,
Toil on from peak to peak!"

"Henceforth, through sun and shade,"
I answered, "unafraid,
I follow the shy maid:

"Yea, beauty to create,
Accept with heart elate
Whate'er may be my fate."

Then, in youth's ardor, strong,
I toiled my way along,
Upon my lips a song;

But as I climbed on high,
Toward the forbidding sky
Perfection seemed to fly;

And though I strove the more,
Still through some viewless door
She ever passed before.

Heart-wearied and forespent,
With body earthward bent,
I ceased from the ascent;

Then, when hope seemed too late,
Despairing,—at Death's gate
I heard a voice say: "Wait!"