Portrait of Henry Timrod

Henry Timrod

Dec 8, 1828 - Oct 6, 1867


Vox Et Preterea Nihil

by Henry Timrod

I've been haunted all night, I've been haunted all day
By the ghost of a song, by the shade of a lay,
That with meaningless words and profusion of rhyme,
To a dreamy and musical rhythm keeps time.
A simple, but still a most magical strain,
Its dim monotones have bewildered my brain
With a specious and cunning appearance of thought,
I seem to be catching but never have caught.

I know it embodies some very sweet things,
And can almost divine the low burden it sings;
But again, and again, and still ever again,
It has died on my ear at the touch of my pen.
And so it keeps courting and shunning my quest,
As a bird that has just been aroused from her nest,
Too fond to depart, and too frightened to stay,
Now circles about you, now flutters away.

Oh! give me fit words for that exquisite song,
And thou could'st not, proud beauty! be obdurate long,
It would come like the voice of a saint from above,
And win thee to kindness, and melt thee to love.
Not gilded with fancy, nor frigid with art,
But simple as feeling, and warm as the heart,
It would murmur my name with so charming a tone,
As would almost persuade thee to wish it thine own.


Copyright 1860
Ticknor And Fields, Boston
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