The Poet

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

He stands above all worldly schism,
And, gazing over life's abysm
Beholds within the starry range
Of heaven laws of death and change,
That, through his soul's prophetic prism,
Are turned to rainbows wild and strange.

Through nature is his hope made surer
Of that ideal, his allurer,
By whom his life is upward drawn
To mount pale pinnacles of dawn,
'Mid which all that is fairer, purer
Of love and lore it come upon.

An alkahest, that makes gold metal
Of dross, his mind is where one petal
Of one wild-rose will all outweigh
The piled-up facts of everyday
Where commonplaces, there that settle,
Are changed to things of heavenly ray.

He climbs by steps of stars and flowers,
Companioned of the dreaming hours,
And sets his feet in pastures where
No merely mortal feet may fare;
And higher than the stars he towers
Though lowlier than the flowers there.

His comrades are his own high fancies
And thoughts in which his soul romances;
And every part of heaven or earth
He visits, lo, assumes new worth;
And touched with loftier traits and trances
Re-shines as with a lovelier birth.

He is the play, likewise the player;
The word that's said, also the sayer;
And in the books of heart and head
There is no thing he has not read;
Of time and tears he is the weigher,
And mouthpiece 'twixt the quick and dead.

He dies: but, mountain ever higher,
Wings Phoenix-like from out his pyre
Above our mortal day and night,
Clothed on with semipiternal light;
And raimented in thought's far fire
Flames on in everlasting flight.

Unseen, yet seen, on heights of visions,
Above all praise and world derisions,
His spirit and his deathless brood
Of dreams fare on, a multitude,
While on the pillar of great missions
His name and place are granite-hewed.

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