Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DAEDALUS, by JOHN STERLING (1806-1844)



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DAEDALUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Wail for daedalus, all that is fairest!
Last Line: For he knows that then the mightiest fall.
Subject(s): Daedalus


WAIL for Daedalus all that is fairest!
All that is tuneful in air or wave!
Shapes whose beauty is truest and rarest,
Haunt with your lamps and spells his grave!

Statues, bend your heads in sorrow,
Ye that glance mid ruins old,
That know not a past, nor expect a morrow
On many a moonlight Grecian wold!

By sculpture cave and speaking river,
Thee, Daedalus, oft the Nymphs recall;
The leaves with a sound of winter quiver,
Murmur thy name, and withering fall.

Yet are thy visions in soul the grandest
Of all that crowd on the tear-dimm'd eye,
Though Daedalus thou no more commandest
New stars to that ever-widening sky.

Ever thy phantoms arise before us,
Our loftier brothers, but one in blood;
By bed and table they lord it o'er us,
With looks of beauty and words of good.

Calmly they show us mankind victorious
O'er all that's aimless, blind, and base;
Their presence has made our nature glorious,
Unveiling our night's illumined face.

Thy toil has won them a god-like quiet;
Thou hast wrought their path to a lovely sphere;
Their eyes to peace rebuke our riot,
And shape us a home of refuge here.

For Daedalus breathed in them his spirit;
In them their sire his beauty sees:
We too, a younger brood, inherit
The gifts and blessing bestow'd on these.

But ah! their wise and graceful seeming
Recalls the more that the sage is gone;
Weeping we wake from deceitful dreaming,
And find our voiceless chamber lone.

Daedalus thou from the twilight fleest,
Which thou with vision hast made so bright;
And when no more those shapes thou seest,
Wanting thine eye they lose their light.

E'en in the noblest of man's creations,
Those fresh worlds round this old of ours,
When the seer is gone, the orphan'd nations
See but the tombs of perish'd powers.

Wail for Daedalus, earth and ocean!
Stars and sun, lament for him!
Ages quake, in strange commotion!
All ye realms of life, be dim!

Wail for Daedalus, awful voices,
From earth's deep centre mankind appal!
Seldom ye sound, and then death rejoices,
For he knows that then the mightiest fall.





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