Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

The Songs Of Seventy Years

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Master! let stronger lips than these
Turn melody to harmony,
Poet! mine tremble as they crave
A word alone with thee.

Thy songs melt on the vibrant air,
The wild birds know them, and the wind;
The common light hath claim on them,
The common heart and mind.

And air, and light, and wind, shall be
Thy fellow-singers, while they say
How seventy years of music stir
The common pulse to-day.

Hush, sweetest songs! Mine ears are deaf
To all of ye save only one.
Blind are the eyes that turn the leaf
Against the Autumn sun.

Oh, blinder once were fading eyes,
Close folded now from shine and rain,
And duller were the dying ears
That heard the chosen strain.

Stay, solemn chant! 'T is mine to sing
Your notes alone below the breath.
'T is mine to bless the poet who
Can bless the hour of death.

For once a spirit "sighed for home,"
A "longed-for light whereby to see,"
And "wearied," found the way to them,
O Christian seer, through thee!

Passed--with thy words on paling lips,
Passed--with thy courage to depart;
Passed--with thy trust within the soul,
Thy music in the heart.

Oh, calm above our restlessness,
And rich beyond our dreaming, yet
In heaven, I know, one owes to thee
A glad and grateful debt.

From it may learn some tenderer art,
May find and take some better way
Than all our tenderest and best,
To crown thy life to-day.

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