Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CALLS ON THE HEART, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CALLS ON THE HEART, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Free heart, that singest to-day
Last Line: Broken hearts triumph so.'
Subject(s): Hearts; Freedom; Independence; Liberty


FREE Heart, that singest to-day
Like a bird on the first green spray,
Wilt thou go forth to the world
Where the hawk hath his wing unfurled
To follow, perhaps, thy way?
Where the tamer thine own will bind,
And, to make thee sing, will blind,
While the little hip grows for the free behind?
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'No, no!
Free hearts are better so.'


The world, thou hast heard it told,
Has counted its robber-gold,
And the pieces stick to the hand;
The world goes riding it fair and grand,
While the truth is bought and sold;
World-voices east, world-voices west,
They call thee, Heart, from thine early rest,
'Come hither, come hither and be our guest.'
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'No, no!
Good hearts are calmer so.'


Who calleth thee, Heart? World's Strife,
With a golden heft to his knife;
World's Mirth, with a finger fine
That draws on a board in wine
Her blood-red plans of life;
World's Gain, with a brow knit down;
World's Fame, with a laurel crown
Which rustles most as the leaves turn brown:
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'No, no!
Calm hearts are wiser so.'


Hast heard that Proserpina
(Once fooling) was snatched away
To partake the dark king's seat,
And the tears ran fast on her feet
To think how the sun shone yesterday?
With her ankles sunken in asphodel
She wept for the roses of earth which fell
From her lap when the wild car drave to hell.
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'No, no!
Wise hearts are warmer so'


And what is this place not seen,
Where Hearts may hide serene?
''T is a fair still house well-kept
Which humble thoughts have swept
And holy prayers made clean.
There I sit with Love in the sun,
And we two never have done
Singing sweeter songs than are guessed by one.'
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'No, no!
Warm hearts are fuller so.'


O Heart, O Love, -- I fear
That Love may be kept too near.
Hast heard, O Heart, that tale,
How Love may be false and frail
To a Heart once holden dear?
-- 'But this true Love of mine
Clings fast as the clinging vine,
And mingles pure as the grapes in wine.'
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'No, no!
Full hearts beat higher so.'


O Heart, O Love, beware!
Look up, and boast not there,
For who has twirled at the pin?
'Tis the World, between Death and Sin, --
The World and the World's Despair!
And Death has quickened his pace
To the hearth, with a mocking face,
Familiar as Love, in Love's own place.
Heart, wilt thou go?
'Still, no!
High hearts must grieve even so.'


The house is waste to-day,
The leaf has dropt from the spray,
The thorn, prickt through to the song:
If summer doeth no wrong,
The winter will, they say.
Sing, Heart! What heart replies?
In vain we were calm and wise,
If the tears unkissed stand on in our eyes.
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'Ah, no!
Grieved hearts must break even so.'


Howbeit all is not lost.
The warm noon ends in frost,
And worldly tongues of promise
Like sheep-bells die off from us
On the desert hills cloud-crossed:
Yet through the silence shall
Pierce the death-angel's call,
And 'Come up hither,' recover all.
Heart, wilt thou go?
-- 'I go!
Broken hearts triumph so.'

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