Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, STANZAS ON FINDING THE KEY OF AN OLD PIANO, by E. JUSTINE BAYARD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

STANZAS ON FINDING THE KEY OF AN OLD PIANO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Unlock, unlock the shrines of memory
Last Line: The portal spirit of the gates of song.
Alternate Author Name(s): Cutting, E. Justine
Subject(s): Musical Instruments; Pianos

UNLOCK, unlock the shrines of memory,
And bid her many keys their voices send
Up in the silent hour unto me.
Speak! that the tones of other years may lend
Their vanished harmonies and lost romance
To days immersed in gloom and dissonance.

Thou who the while unconscious played thy part,
And called fair music from her silent cell
To echo murmurs from the gushing heart,
Come! wake once more the departed spell,
I fain would hear of things and thoughts again,
Which mingled often with the stealing strain.

Hark! it comes creeping on. It is an air
Full of strange wailing -- mournfully profound;
Some music-spirit moaning in despair,
Prisoned in that sweet barrier of sound:
And yet, methinks "might I a captive be
If thus environed in captivity!"

And shadowy forms around the instrument
Come closely pressing, whispering low words
That keep time with the music, redolent
Of deep vibrations in the hidden chords
That round the heart their hurried measure keep,
And sway its pulses with resistless sweep.

Voice of the voiceless! Graves give up their dead,
And at thy words departed echoes ring,
Familiar carols from the lips that fled
Long weary years ago, with fatal wing,
Unto the silent regions of the tomb,
And died away there in its hollow gloom.

Hush! other instruments are creeping in
To perfect the concordance of the whole,
And well-remembered voices now begin
To bear on wings invisible my soul.
My own! Amongst them I can hear my own,
Alas! 'T is almost a forgotten tone!

Was it eve dark'ning o'er the pleasant room
When the soft breezes of the summer night
Breathed through its atmosphere a faint perfume,
Or when the autumn's crimson fire-light
Glow'd upon every brow, thou still wert there,
Wreck of departed days, with many an air.

Joyous or sorrowful -- profound or wild,
Swiftly thy sweeping chords gave out their tones,
Light as the laughter of a sinless child,
Deep as the anguish told in captive moans,
Smooth as the flow of rivers to the sea,
Irregular as dark insanity.

There have been hands that are beneath the mould
(I seem to feel their chillness in thy touch),
Eyes wept the while they moved, that now are cold
As this impassive metal -- yet are such
The things that bind us nearest, move us most,
And leave a hopeless voice when they are lost.

Now, stranger hands across those keys will run,
And other walls far other groups surround,
And stranger eyes look lovingly upon
The unconscious mover of the realm of sound.
That realm, once sacred, my sweet home, to thee,
And sacred ever to my memory.

But thou, impassive thing, thus sever'd wide
From thy sole wealth in those harmonious waves,
Another empire be thine own beside:
Be thou the pass-key to the spirit caves,
Thou the deliverer of their captive throng,
The portal spirit of the gates of song.

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