Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HOURS OF RECREATION, by LEVI BISHOP



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HOURS OF RECREATION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Celestial muse! That still inspires / and fans to flame poetic fires!
Last Line: And time confirms the greatness of the great.
Subject(s): Life; Muses; Poetry & Poets


I.

Celestial Muse! that still inspires,
And fans to flame poetic fires!
Thy kindly guidance now impart;
O touch this pen, and theme, and heart!
That numbers sweet, and truth, and ken,
And worthy thoughts, of things and men,
May deep impress our various song:
The bold attempt be mine;
The inspiration thine:
To Thee success and fame belong.

II.

But why thus on the muses call?
And why this antique strain?
Must poets thus forever fall
Into this path again?

The muses all, were but a dream,
Illissus but a rill;
The Arno but a rapid stream,
Parnassus but a hill.

Thus criticism surly growls
At introductory rhyme;
So wise, so blind, like other owls
To hoot in leisure time!

Know this -- the strain of invocation,
Which thus annoys the critic,
Is but a call on inspiration
To lend the fire poetic.

III.

And, gentle reader, kindly share
Our anxious toil and fears;
Unfriendly criticism spare,
Grant sympathizing tears.

To us the rugged path of life
Has rugged been indeed;
Yet never lacked we in the strife
A friend in time of need.

O, now extend the friendly hand,
For excellence was meant;
O, gently wave the healing wand,
Approve the good intent.

We grant you all that you can say,
For many faults are seen;
Then let them pass, let us we pray,
Be our own Fadladeen.

IV.

This life abounds in charming pleasures,
But pain intrudes to mar them all, --
The base alloy in earthly treasures --
The doom of man since Adam's fall.

The pain, the anguish deep, all know them well;
And yet each tongue in glowing words can tell,
How dear each worthy triumph of the day --
The bright sunshine where storms beset the way.

In public and in private life,
In civil sway, in war,
How sweet to conquer in the strife --
To dash malignant star.

And when, with fearful odds, in battle fray
We meet, and stand, and face the stern array
Of numbers all undaunted; and we feel
Our firm resolve, though unrelaxed, yet reel
In doubt and in despair; then doubly sweet
To gain, unhoped, the victory complete.

Success! 'Tis varied, and for all
In some degree; the great, the small,
Sustain defeat. Our hopes, our fears,
Are drowned in joys or bitter tears.
To-day, we bear a rival's fling;
To-morrow, he will feel the sting.
To-day, repulse and gloomy sorrow;
We shout triumphant on the morrow.

V.

Shall we, in glowing verse, or ever soar
With Homer, Tasso, Akenside? who pour
From richest, purest fonts the sweetest streams
Of melody? whose stately measure gleams
With heavenly light? who sound the deep,
And ride the storm, and climb the steep,
Of purest contemplation? No:
How empty was the thought! But lo,
They guide our feet! Blazing afar,
We follow their auspicious star
Like Magi of the East. We sought
Not palfry pelf, but to be brought
In lowly admiration to their shrine;
Theirs the creative, the faint echo mine.
Their car of fire may dart celestial ray,
Like shooting comet or the milky way;
For theirs the lofty, ever glorious strain,
That mounts on high, by right divine to reign.

To genius humbly thus we sing,
Our lowly tribute thus we bring;
A tribute, ages pay, of every state;
That constant swells with rolling years,
Till fame is echoed from the spheres;
And time confirms the greatness of the great.





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