Thomas Bailey Aldrich

The Rarity of Genius

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While yet my lip was breathing youth's first breath,
I all too young to know their deepest spell,
I saw Medea and Phædra in Rachel;
Later I saw the great Elizabeth.
Rachel, Ristori -- we shall speak with death
Ere we meet souls like these. In one age dwell
Not many such: a century shall tell
Its hundred beads before it braid a wreath
For two so queenly foreheads. If it take
Æons to form a diamond, grain on grain,
Æons to crystallize its fire and dew,
By what slow processes must Nature make
Her Shakespeares and her Raffaels? Great the gain
If she spoil millions making one or two.

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Thomas Bailey Aldrich