The Song Of Songs

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

I Heard a Spirit singing as, beyond the morning winging, Its radiant form went swinging like a star:
In its song prophetic voices mixed their sounds with trumpet-noises, As when, loud, the World rejoices after war.
And it said:

I.

Hear me!
Above the roar of cities,
The clamor and conflict of trade,
The frenzy and fury of commercialism,
Is heard my voice, chanting, intoning.
Down the long corridors of time it comes,
Bearing my message, bidding the soul of man arise
To the realization of his dream.
Now and then discords seem to intrude,
And tones that are false and feeble
Beginnings of the perfect chord
From which is evolved the ideal, the unattainable.
Hear me!
Ever and ever,
Above the tumult of the years,
The blatant cacophonies of war,
The wrangling of politics,
Demons and spirits of unrest,
My song persists,
Addressing the soul
With the urge of an astral something,
Supernal,
Elemental,
Promethean,
Instinct with an everlasting fire.

II.

Hear me!
I am the expression of the subconscious,
The utterance of the intellect,
The voice of mind,
That stands for civilization.
Out of my singing sprang, Minerva-like,
Full-armed and fearless,
Liberty,
Subduer of tyrants, who feed on the strength of Nations.
Out of my chanting arose,
As Aphrodite arose from the foam of the ocean,
The Dream of Spiritual Desire,
Mother of Knowledge,
Victor o'er Hate and Oppression,
Ancient and elemental dæmons,
Who, with Ignorance and Evil, their consorts,
Have ruled for eons of years.

III.

Hear me!
Should my chanting cease,
My music utterly fail you,
Behold!
Out of the hoary Past, most swiftly, surely,
Would gather the Evils of Earth,
The Hydras and Harpies, forgotten,
And buried in darkness:
Amorphous of form,
Tyrannies and Superstitions
Torturing body and soul:
And with them,
Gargoyls of dreams that groaned in the Middle Ages
Aspects of darkness and death and hollow eidolons,
Cruel, inhuman,
Wearing the faces and forms of all the wrongs of the world.
Barbarian hordes whose shapes make hideous
The cycles of error and crime:
Grendels of darkness,
Devouring the manhood of Nations:
Demogorgons of War and Misrule,
Blackening the world with blood and the lust of destruction.
Hear me!
Out of my song have grown
Beauty and joy,
And with them
The triumph of Reason;
The confirmation of Hope,
Of Faith and Endeavor:
The Dream that's immortal,
To whose creation Thought gives concrete form,
And of which Vision makes permanent substance.

IV.

Fragmentary,
Out of the Past,
Down the long aisles of the Centuries,
Uncertain at first and uneasy,
Hesitant, harsh of expression,
My song was heard,
Stammering, appealing,
A murmur merely:
Coherent then,
Singing into form,
Assertive,
Ecstatic,
Louder, lovelier, and more insistent,
Sonorous, proclaiming;
Clearer and surer and stronger,
Attaining expression, evermore truer and clearer:
Masterful, mighty at last,
Committed to conquest,
And with Beauty coeval;
Part of the wonder of life,
The triumph of light over darkness:
Taking the form of Art
Art, that is voice and vision of the soul of man.
Hear me!
Confident ever,
One with the Loveliness song shall evolve,
My voice is become as an army of banners,
Marching irresistibly forward,
With the roll of the drums of attainment,
The blare of the bugles of fame:
Tramping, tramping, evermore advancing,
Till the last redoubt of prejudice is down,
And the Eagles and Fasces of Learning
Make glorious the van o' the world.

V.

They who are deaf to my singing,
Who disregard me,
Let them beware lest the splendor escape them,
The glory of light that is back o' the darkness of life,
And with it
The blindness of spirit o'erwhelm them.
They who reject me,
Reject the gleam
That goes to the making of Beauty;
And put away
The loftier impulses of heart and of mind.
They shall not possess the dream, the ideal,
Of ultimate worlds,
That is part of the soul that aspires;
That sits with the Spirit of Thought,
The radiant presence who weaves,
Directed of Destiny,
There in the Universe,
At its infinite pattern of stars.
They shall not know,
Not they,
The exaltations that make endurable here on the Earth
The ponderable curtain of flesh.
Not they! Not they!

VI.

Hear me!
I control, and direct;
I wound and heal,
Elevate and subdue
The vaulting energies of Man.
I am part of the cosmic strain o' the Universe:
I captain the thoughts that grow to deeds,
Material and spiritual facts,
Pointing the world to greater and nobler things.
Hear me!
My dædal expression peoples the Past and Present
With forms of ethereal thought
That symbolize Beauty:
The Beauty expressing itself now,
As Poetry,
As Philosophy:
As Truth and Religion now,
And now,
As science and Law,
Vaunt couriers of Civilization.

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