George Meredith

To Alex. Smith, The 'Glasgow Poet,' On His Sonnet To 'Fame'

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Not vainly doth the earnest voice of man
Call for the thing that is his pure desire!
Fame is the birthright of the living lyre!
To noble impulse Nature puts no ban.
Nor vainly to the Sphinx thy voice was raised!
Tho' all thy great emotions like a sea,
Against her stony immortality,
Shatter themselves unheeded and amazed.
Time moves behind her in a blind eclipse:
Yet if in her cold eyes the end of all
Be visible, as on her large closed lips
Hangs dumb the awful riddle of the earth; -
She sees, and she might speak, since that wild call,
The mighty warning of a Poet's birth.

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George Meredith