Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON SEEING AUDUBON'S 'BIRDS OF AMERICA', by EBENEZER ELLIOTT

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ON SEEING AUDUBON'S 'BIRDS OF AMERICA', by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Painting is silent music.' so said one
Last Line: Thy copied words of god -- when death-struck suns expire.
Alternate Author Name(s): Corn-law Rhymer; Elliot, Ebenezer
Subject(s): Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

"PAINTING is silent music." So said one
Whose prose is sweetest painting. Audubon!
Thou Raphael of great Nature's woods and seas!
Thy living forms and hues, thy plants, thy trees,
Bring deathless music from the houseless waste --
The immortality of truth and taste.
Thou givest bright accents to the voiceless sod;
And all thy pictures are mute hymns to God.
Why hast thou power to bear the untravell'd soul
Through farthest wilds, o'er ocean's stormy roll;
And, to the prisoner of disease, bring home
The homeless birds of ocean's roaring foam;
But that thy skill might bid the desert sing
The sun-bright plumage of the Almighty's wing?
With his own hues thy splendid lyre is strung;
For genius speaks the universal tongue.
"Come," cries the bigot, black with pride and wine --
"Come and hear me -- the Word of God is mine!"
"But I," saith He, who paves with suns his car,
And makes the storms his coursers from afar,
And, with a glance of his all-dazzling eye,
Smites into crashing fire the boundless sky --
"I speak in this swift sea-bird's speaking eyes,
These passion-shiver'd plumes, these lucid dyes:
This beauty is my language! in this breeze
I whisper love to forests and the seas;
I speak in this lone flower -- this dew-drop cold --
That hornet's sting -- you serpent's neck of gold
These are my accents. Hear them! and behold
How well my prophet-spoken truth agrees
With the dread truth and mystery of these
Sad, beauteous, grand, love-warbled mysteries!"
Yes, Audubon! and men shall read in thee
His language, written for eternity;
And if, immortal in its thoughts, the soul
Shall live in heaven, and spurn the tomb's control,
Angels shall retranscribe, with pens of fire,
Thy forms of Nature's terror, love, and ire,
Thy copied words of God -- when death-struck suns expire.

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