Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
357. In the Twilight
By James Russell Lowell
MEN say the sullen instrument,
  That, from the Master’s bow,
  With pangs of joy or woe,
Feels music’s soul through every fibre sent,
  Whispers the ravished strings        5
More than he knew or meant;
  Old summers in its memory glow;
  The secrets of the wind it sings;
  It hears the April-loosened springs;
    And mixes with its mood        10
    All it dreamed when it stood
    In the murmurous pine-wood
          Long ago!
The magical moonlight then
  Steeped every bough and cone;        15
The roar of the brook in the glen
  Came dim from the distance blown;
The wind through its glooms sang low,
  And it swayed to and fro
    With delight as it stood        20
    In the wonderful wood,
          Long ago!
O my life, have we not had seasons
  That only said, Live and rejoice?
That asked not for causes and reasons,        25
  But made us all feeling and voice?
When we went with the winds in their blowing,
  When Nature and we were peers,
And we seemed to share in the flowing
  Of the inexhaustible years?        30
  Have we not from the earth drawn juices
  Too fine for earth’s sordid uses?
    Have I heard, have I seen
      All I feel, all I know?
    Doth my heart overween?        35
    Or could it have been
          Long ago?
Sometimes a breath floats by me,
  An odor from Dreamland sent,
That makes the ghost seem nigh me        40
  Of a splendor that came and went,
Of a life lived somewhere, I know not
  In what diviner sphere,
Of memories that stay not and go not,
  Like music heard once by an ear        45
    That cannot forget or reclaim it,
    A something so shy, it would shame it
      To make it a show,
    A something too vague, could I name it,
      For others to know,        50
    As if I had lived it or dreamed it,
    As if I had acted or schemed it,
          Long ago!
And yet, could I live it over,
  This life that stirs in my brain,        55
Could I be both maiden and lover,
Moon and tide, bee and clover,
  As I seem to have been, once again,
Could I but speak it and show it,
  This pleasure more sharp than pain,        60
    That baffles and lures me so,
The world should once more have a poet,
    Such as it had
    In the ages glad,
          Long ago!        65


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