Thomas Bailey Aldrich



When From The Tense Chords Of That Mighty Lyre

by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

January, 1892


When from the tense chords of that mighty lyre
The Master's hand, relaxing, falls away,
And those rich strings are silent for all time,
Then shall Love pine, and Passion lack her fire,
And Faith seem voiceless. Man to man shall say,
Dead is the last of England's Lords of Rhyme.


Yet -- stay! there's one, a later laureled brow,
With purple blood of poets in his veins;
Him has the Muse claimed; him might Marlowe own;
Greek Sappho's son! -- men's praises seek him now.
Happy the realm where one such voice remains!
His the dropt wreath and the unenvied throne.


The wreath the world gives, not the mimic wreath
That chance might make the gift of king or queen.
O finder of undreamed-of harmonies!
Since Shelley's lips were hushed by cruel death,
What lyric voice so sweet as this has been
Borne to us on the winds from over seas?


Unguarded Gates: And Other Poems
Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company,Boston And New York