T h e M y s t i c T r u m p e t e r
HARK! some wild trumpeter - some strange musician,
Hovering unseen in air, vibrates capricious tunes to-night.
I hear thee, trumpeter - listening, alert, I catch thy notes,
Now pouring, whirling like a tempest round me,
Now low, subdued - now in the distance lost.
Come nearer, bodiless one - haply, in thee resounds
Some dead composer - haply thy pensive life
Was fill'd with aspirations high - unform'd ideals,
Waves, oceans musical, chaotically surging,
That now, ecstatic ghost, close to me bending, thy cornet echoing, pealing,
Gives out to no one's ears but mine - but freely gives to mine,
That I may thee translate.
Blow, trumpeter, free and clear - I follow thee,
While at thy liquid prelude, glad, serene,
The fretting world, the streets, the noisy hours of day, withdraw;
A holy calm descends, like dew, upon me,
I walk, in cool refreshing night, the walks of Paradise,
I scent the grass, the moist air, and the roses;
Thy song expands my numb'd, imbonded spirit - thou freest, launchest me,
Floating and basking upon Heaven's lake.
Blow again, trumpeter! and for my sensuous eyes,
Bring the old pageants - show the feudal world.
What charm thy music works! - thou makest pass before me,
Ladies and cavaliers long dead - barons are in their castle halls - the troubadours are singing;
Arm'd knights go forth to redress wrongs - some in quest of the Holy Grail:
I see the tournament - I see the contestants, encased in heavy armor, seated on stately, champing horses;
I hear the shouts - the sounds of blows and smiting steel:
I see the Crusaders' tumultuous armies - Hark! how the cymbals clang!
Lo! where the monks walk in advance, bearing the cross on high!
Blow again, trumpeter! and for thy theme,
Take now the enclosing theme of all - the solvent and the setting;
Love, that is pulse of all - the sustenace and the pang;
The heart of man and woman all for love;
No other theme but love - knitting, enclosing, all-diffusing love.
O, how the immortal phantoms crowd around me!
I see the vast alembic ever working - I see and know the flames that heat the world;
The glow, the blush, the beating hearts of lovers,
So blissful happy some - and some so silent, dark, and nigh to death:
Love, that is all the earth to lovers - Love, that mocks time and space;
Love, that is day and night - Love, that is sun and moon and stars; 40
Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with perfume;
No other words, but words of love - no other thought but Love.
Blow again, trumpeter - conjure war's Wild alarums.
Swift to thy spell, a shuddering hum like distant thunder rolls;
Lo! where the arm'd men hasten - Lo! mid the clouds of dust, the glint of bayonets;
I see the grime-faced cannoniers - I mark the rosy flash amid the smoke - I hear the cracking of the guns:
- Nor war alone - thy fearful music-song, wild player, brings every sight of fear,
The deeds of ruthless brigands - rapine, murder - I hear the cries for help!
I see ships foundering at sea - I behold on deck, and below deck, the terrible tableaux.
O trumpeter! methinks I am myself the instrument thou playest!
Thou melt'st my heart, my brain - thou movest, drawest, changest them, at will:
And now thy sullen notes send darkness through me;
Thou takest away all cheering light - all hope:
I see the enslaved, the overthrown, the hurt, the opprest of the whole earth;
I feel the measureless shame and humiliation of my race - it becomes all mine;
Mine too the revenges of humanity - the wrongs of ages - baffled feuds and hatreds;
Utter defeat upon me weighs - all lost! the foe victorious!
(Yet 'mid the ruins Pride colossal stands, unshaken to the last;
Endurance, resolution, to the last.)
Now, trumpeter, for thy close,
Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet;
Sing to my soul - renew its languishing faith and hope;
Rouse up my slow belief - give me some vision of the future;
Give me, for once, its prophecy and joy.
O glad, exulting, culminating song!
A vigor more than earth's is in thy notes!
Marches of victory - man disenthrall'd - the conqueror at last!
Hymns to the universal God, from universal Man - all joy!
A reborn race appears - a perfect World, all joy!
Women and Men, in wisdom, innocence and health - all joy!
Riotous, laughing bacchanals, fill'd with joy!
War, sorrow, suffering gone - The rank earth purged - nothing but joy left!
The ocean fill'd with joy - the atmosphere all joy!
Joy! Joy! in freedom, worship, love! Joy in the ecstacy of life!
Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe!
Joy! Joy! all over Joy!