Ballade Of The Making Of Songs

A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

Bees make their honey out of coloured flowers,
Through the June day, with all its beam and scent,
Heather of breezy hills, and idle bowers,
Brushing soft doors of every blossoming tent,
Filling gold thighs in drowsy ravishment,
Pillaging vines on the hot garden wall,
Taking of each small bloom its little rent -
Poets must make their honey out of gall.

Singers, not so this craven life of ours,
Our honey out of bitter herbs is blent;
The songs that fall as soft as April showers
Came of the whips and scorns of chastisement,
From smitten lips and hearts in sorrow bent,
Distilled of blood and wormwood are they all -
Idly you heard, indifferent what they meant:
Poets must make their honey out of gall.

You lords and ladies sitting high in towers,
Scarcely attending the sweet instrument
That lulls you 'mid your cruel careless hours,
Melodious minister of your content;
Think you this music was from Heaven sent?
Nay, Hell hath made it thus so musical.
And to its making thorns and nettles went -
Poets must make their honey out of gall.


Prince of this world, enthroned and insolent,
Beware, lest with a song your towers fall,
Your pride sent blazing up the firmament -
Poets must make their honey out of gall.

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