Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
270. The Blind Psalmist
By Elizabeth Clementine Kinney
HE sang the airs of olden times
In soft, low tones to sacred rhymes,
  Devotional, but quaint;
His fingers touched the viol’s strings,
And at their gentle vibratings        5
The glory of an angel’s wings
  Hung o’er that aged saint!
His thin, white locks, like silver threads
On which the sun its radiance sheds,
  Or like the moonlit snow,        10
Seemed with a lustre half divine
Around his saintly brow to shine,
Till every scar, or time-worn line,
  Was gilded with its glow.
His sightless balls to heaven upraised,        15
As with the spirit’s eyes he gazed
  On things invisible—
Reflecting some celestial light—
Were like a tranquil lake at night,
On which two mirrored planets bright        20
  The concave’s glory tell.
Thus, while the patriarchal saint
Devoutly sang to music quaint,
  I saw old Homer rise
With buried centuries from the dead,        25
The laurel green upon his head,
As when the choir of bards he led,
  With rapt, but blinded eyes!
And Scio’s isle again looked green,
As when the poet there was seen,        30
  And Greece was in her prime;
While Poesy with epic fire
Did once again the Bard inspire,
As when he swept his mighty lyre
  To vibrate through all time.        35
The vision changed to Albion’s shore:
I saw a sightless Bard once more
  From dust of ages rise!
I heard the harp and deathless song
Of glorious Milton float along,        40
Like warblings from the birds that throng
  His muse’s Paradise!
And is it thus, when blindness brings
A veil before all outer things,
  That visual spirits see        45
A world within, than this more bright,
Peopled with living forms of light,
And strewed with gems, as stars of night
  Strew diamonds o’er the sea?
Then, reverend saint! though old and blind,        50
Thou with the quenchless orbs of mind
  Canst natural sight o’erreach;
Upborne on Faith’s triumphant wings,
Canst see unutterable things,
Which only through thy viol’s strings,        55
  And in thy songs, find speech.


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