Poems (Coates 1916)/Volume II/Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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For other versions of this work, see Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Coates).



IF tasting Heliconian springs
He of their waters drank not deep,
If, smiling, he beheld not things
Revealed to eyes that weep,
If dread Dodona's Oracle
And Delphi's voice for him were mute,
If grave Minerva in his path
Dropped never silver flute,—

Yet beauty wove a magic spell
For him, and early, at his need,
Upon a bed of asphodel
He found a tuneful reed,—
The Syrinx-reed Thessalian,
Of plaintive, far renown,
The universal pipe of Pan,—
Where the god laid it down.

Right reverently from the ground
He lifted up the sacred thing,
Accepted it with awe profound,
With faith unfaltering;
And when its music forth he drew
Earth half forgot her ancient pain,
For Marsyas himself ne'er blew
A purer, sweeter strain!

Though still there be who, self-attired
In robes of judgment some misuse,
Protest that he was not inspired
By the authentic Muse,—
Love, granting all his faults to these,
Forever holds his name apart,
Who moved not senseless stones and trees,
But the quick human heart.

"The people's poet." Did he lack
Return? He served in high degree
The people, and they gave him back
Their immortality!
Time careless grows of costly wit,
Brave monuments are quickly gone,
But that which on the heart is writ
Lives on, and on, and on!