A Miltonic Exercise

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

(TERCENTENARY, 1608-1908)

"Stops of various Quills."--LYCIDAS.

What need of votive Verse
To strew thy Laureat Herse
With that mix'd Flora of th' Aonian Hill?
Or Mincian vocall Reed,
That Cam and Isis breed,
When thine own Words are burning in us still?

Bard, Prophet, Archimage!
In this Cash-cradled Age,
We grate our scrannel Musick, and we dote:
Where is the Strain unknown,
Through Bronze or Silver blown,
That thrill'd the Welkin with thy woven Note?

Yes,--"we are selfish Men":
Yet would we once again
Might see Sabrina braid her amber Tire;

Or watch the Comus Crew
Sweep down the Glade; or view
Strange-streamer'd Craft from Javan or Gadire!

Or could we catch once more,
High up, the Clang and Roar
Of Angel Conflict,--Angel Overthrow;
Or, with a World begun,
Behold the young-ray'd Sun
Flame in the Groves where the Four Rivers go!

Ay me, I fondly dream!
Only the Storm-bird's Scream
Foretells of Tempest in the Days to come;
Nowhere is heard up-climb
The lofty lyric Rhyme,
And the "God-gifted Organ-voice" is dumb.[1]

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