Maurice Thompson

Full-Fledged (Une barbe de jeune dieu)

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Is all discovery made?
Is the hand of Conquest stayed?
Are all the heroes dead, all epics told?
Is Fame's grand tower no more
On any height or shore?
Is the bard's Excalibur worn thin and dull and old?


O for a sweet, strange waft--
A thrilling, hopeful draught
From a land where no man's feet were ever set;
Where nameless wild birds sing,
And the woods and everything
With fragrant, honey-flavored dews are wet!


We build our ships in vain,
If no new shores we gain.
Though back and forth we track that Genoese
Who found fresh, wholesome room
For Freedom's root and bloom,
Yet shall we long to sail the unknown seas!


Where shall I lay my head?
What grass shall be my bed?
What holy, unsullied grove shall shadow me?
Somewhere, somewhere I know,
Untasted fountains flow
And winds blow off an undiscovered sea!


The clarion is whist;
No knight rides down the list;
High courage is but dust on rusted shields;
Where grandest deeds were done,
Most glorious battles won,
Dull peasants plow in poor and arid fields.


Old Homer and old wine,
And Shakespeare the divine,
And women for whose sake the world was changed,--
All these are of the past;
Romance has breathed her last;
Genius, with lamp and lyre, through every grove has ranged.


The jaded worshipers,
The priests and followers
Of the high God, no fresh gift-offerings bring
From full-fed flocks and herds,
But, mumbling unmeaning words,
Burn fleshless bones and impotent censers swing.


Love walks not anywhere;
Venus, no longer fair,
Into some lonely place has crept away;
The dryad and the fawn
And the river-gods are gone,
And in the woods no more the lusty satyrs stray.


But my young limbs are strong,
My throat thirsts for a song!
The meanings and the potencies of youth
Are gathering in my reins
And throbbing in my veins;
I pant and pine for deep clean springs of Truth!


I will not have the lute,
Nor that old, worm-bitten flute
Bequeathed by gods to the dull line of bards.
Charmed reeds of song there are
By happy streams afar,
And I shall cut mine own, despite what demon guards!


Ready, clear-eyed, alert,
Mine own I shall assert,
Repeating no man's manner, no man's note;
But gathering from primal sources
The pure and subtle forces
That shall with rarest resonance flood my throat.


I cannot stand and wait
I have no faith in Fate.
The sinews of my body, lithe and clean,
Promise a better turn
Than all the stars that burn,
As o'er Morn's outmost rosy rim I lean.


I will not look behind;
But down some brisk, sharp wind,
Exulting, into the future I shall spring,
Brown-limbed, anointed, free,
To breast swift floods and see
What wider view Time's highest tide shall bring!


I shall not tire or fail;
Strange essence shall exhale
(Suggesting life immortal) from my song,
And all the world shall smile,
Half-owning for a while
The influence of the healthful and the strong!


I shall break every chain,
To farthest heights attain,
And drink from wells no face has bent above.
Oh! from what heavenly place
Shall leap to my embrace
The warm embodiment of innocent love?

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Maurice Thompson