Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE OLD SINGER, by ADELBERT VON CHAMISSO



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE OLD SINGER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Once a strange old man went singing
Last Line: "slow and sure the hour draws nigh!"
Subject(s): Singing & Singers; Songs


ONCE a strange old man went singing,
Words of scornful admonition
To the streets and markets bringing:
"In the wilds a voice am I!
Slowly, slowly seek your mission;
Naught in haste, or rash endeavor—
From the work yet ceasing never:
Slow and sure the hour draws nigh!

Time's great branches cease from shaking;
Blind are ye, devoid of reason,
If its fruit ye would be taking
When its blossoms have but burst.
Let it ripen to its season,
Wind within its branches bluster—
Of itself the fruits 'twill muster
For whose juices ripe ye thirst."

Wild, excited crowds are scorning
In their guise the gray old singer,
Thus reward him for his warning,
Ape his songs in mockery:
"Shall we let the fellow linger
To disgrace us? Stone him, beat him,
With the scorn he merits treat him—
Let the world his folly see!"

So the strange old man went singing,
To the halls of royal splendor
Scornful admonition bringing:
"In the wilds a voice am I!
Doubt not, dream not of surrender:
Forward, forward, never ceasing,
Strength in spite of all increasing—
Slow and sure the hour draws nigh!

With the stream, before the breezes
Wouldst thou show thy strength, then teach it
Both to conquer as it pleases—
Both are weaker than the grave.
Choose thy port, and steer to reach it!
Threatening rocks? The rudder's master;
Turning back is sure disaster,
And its end beneath the wave."

One was seen to blench in terror,
Flushing first, then sudden paling:
"Who gave entrance—whose the error
Let this madman pass along?
All things show his wits are failing—
Shall he daze our people's senses?
Prison him with sure defenses,
Silence hold his silly song!"

But the strange old man went singing
Where within the tower they bound him—
Calm and clear his answer ringing:
"In the wilds a voice am I!
Though the people's hate surround him,
Must the prophet still endeavor,
From his mission ceasing never—
Slow and sure the hour draws nigh!"





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