Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE IDLE SINGER: REACTION, by QUINTIN BONE



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THE IDLE SINGER: REACTION, by            
First Line: Have you a word for your brother
Last Line: O, awake thee, be a man!


HAVE you a word for your brother
That will help him in his need?
O, by love, our great sweet mother,
Why this fluting through a reed,
And this singing in fine rhythm?
Poet, do not trifle with him --
Seems your song-flower but a weed,
Self its root -- the devil's other --
Fame its hotbed; lo, a tare
That hath sprung instead of wheat;
Fruitless, can it well be fair
Or its garish bloom smell sweet?
With the world's wail swelling higher
Round life's sacrificial fire,
As the victims pale advance --
Sin, Pain, Want, and Ignorance --
All your verses in my heed
Are but idle fancy's ware,
Lifeless, loveless for most part,
And they weigh as light as air
In the balance with one deed,
With a word warm from the heart.
For athwart our spirits' ken
In awed hearing now and then,
Breaks the tumult of the sadness,
Of the badness and the madness,
In the great world-heart that rages,
Beating march-time in the battle,
Ever clashing life with death
Up the red slope of the ages;
And thy song seems idle prattle,
And thyself in simple childhood
Tranc'd by fairy story's spell,
Blowing bubbles with light breath,
Pleased with bauble coach and rattle,
Playing at heaven on the brink of hell.
With a passion of self-disdain,
With a sudden pang of pain,
From thy dream-life sickly sweet
Be thou shaken to thy feet.
Being is better than seeming;
Doing is grander than dreaming;
Worthy life than perfect poem --
Be it epic, drama, lyric,
With their faultless, fair ideal,
And their yearning, rapt, hysteric;
And the human-hearted real,
With its homely heroism,
And its love-enrooted duty,
Having flow'r of Christ-like beauty,
Showeth dearer in God's sight
Than the muse's farthest flight
Through heaven's height or hell's abysm.

Idle dreamer by life's road,
Wooing beauty all day long --
Self is world's sorrow and wrong,
Leaden weight of its weary load --
Cease awhile; life's noblest, highest,
Is not singing a great song;
It is doing the will of God.
Life is real, and thou liest,
Lulling us with cozenings
And the rhythmic wave of wings --
And we dream within a dream
Till God wake us, all astart,
Thee and us, with awful beam
Of His daylight white and real --
Shaming tawdry fine ideal
Paling showman's tinsel art
Blear'd and sickly, pale and wan.
Live in doing, strive to be all
You have sung of in your sanity,
You have felt of our humanity,
O, awake thee, BE A MAN!





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