Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Muse
By George Wither (1588–1667)
 
(See full text.)

THE MUSE doth tell me where to borrow
Comfort in the midst of sorrow;
Makes the desolatest place
To her presence be a grace;
And the blackest discontents        5
Be her fairest ornaments.
In my former days of bliss,
Her divine skill taught me this,
That, from every thing I saw,
I could some invention draw;        10
And raise pleasure to her height,
Through the meanest object’s sight.
By the murmur of a spring,
Or the least bough’s rustling,
By a daisy, whose leaves spread,        15
Shut, when Titan goes to bed,
Or a shady bush, or tree,
She could more infuse in me,
Than all Nature’s beauties can
In some other wiser man.        20
By her help, I also now
Make this churlish place allow
Some things that may sweeten gladness,
In the very gall of sadness.
The dull loneness, the black shade,        25
That these hanging vaults have made;
The strange music of the waves
Beating on these hollow caves;
This black den which rocks emboss
Overgrown with eldest moss;        30
The rude portals which give light
More to terror than delight
This my chamber of Neglect,
Walled about with Disrespect;
From all these, and this dull air,        35
A fit object for despair,
She hath taught me by her might
To draw comfort and delight.
Therefore, thou best earthly bliss,
I will cherish thee for this;        40
Poesy, thou sweet’st content,
That e’er Heaven to mortals lent,
Though they as a trifle leave thee,
Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee,
Though thou be to them a scorn        45
Who to nought but earth are born;
Let my life no longer be
Than I am in love with thee.
 
 
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