Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
403. From an “Ode to England”
By William Wilberforce

O GOLD Hyperion, love-lorn Porphyro,
  Ill-fated! from thine orbëd fire struck back
Just as the parting clouds began to glow,
  And stars, like sparks, to bicker in thy track!
Alas! throw down, throw down, ye mighty dead,        5
  The leaves of oak and asphodel
That ye were weaving for that honored head,—
  In vain, in vain, your lips would seek a spell
In the few charmed words the poet sung,
  To lure him upward in your seats to dwell,—        10
As vain your grief! Oh! why should one so young
  Sit crowned midst hoary heads with wreaths divine?
Though to his lips Hymettus’ bees had clung,
  His lips shall never taste the immortal wine,
Who sought to drain the glowing cup too soon,        15
For he hath perished, and the moon
Hath lost Endymion—but too well
  The shaft that pierced him in her arms was sped:
  Into that gulf of dark and nameless dread,
  Star-like he fell, but a wide splendor shed        20
Through its deep night, that kindled as he fell.

And Thou! whom earth still holds, and will not yield
  To join the mighty brotherhood of ghosts,—
Who, when their lips upon the earth are sealed,
  Sing in the presence of the Lord of Hosts:—        25
Thou that, when first my quickened ear
Thy deeper harmonies might hear,
I imaged to myself as old and blind,
  For so were Milton and Mæonides!
And worthy art thou—whether like the wind        30
  Rousing its might among the forest trees,
Thou sing of mountain and of flood,
  The voiceful thunder of the seas,
  With all their inland symphonies,
    Their thousand brooks and rills;        35
The vale’s deep voice, the roaring wood,
    The ancient silence of the hills,
  Sublimer still than these;
Or in devotion’s loftier mood,
  Like a solemn organ tone        40
  In some vast minster heard alone,
  Feelings that are thoughts inspire;
  Or, with thy hand upon the lyre
High victories to celebrate,
  Summon from its strings the throng        45
Of stately numbers intricate
  That swell the impetuous tide of song.
O Bard, of soul assured and high,
  And god-like calm! we look on thee
With like serene and awful eye,        50
  As when,—of such divinity
Still credulous,—the multitude
  One in the concourse might behold,
Whose statue in his life-time stood
  Among the gods. O Poet, old        55
  In all the years of future time!
But young in the perpetual youth
And bloom of love, and might of truth,—
  To these thy least ambitious rhyme
    Is faithful, and partakes their worth;        60
  Yea, true as is the starry chime
    To the great strains the sun gives forth.
  Bard of our Time! thy name we see,
  By golden-haired Mnemosyne,
    First graved upon its full-writ page,—        65
    Thee—last relinquished, whom the Age
  Doth yield to Immortality.


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