At Dawn and Dusk


Victor James Daley

ONCE a poet—long ago—
    Wrote a song as void of art
As the songs that children know,
    And as pure as a child’s heart.

With a sigh he threw it down,
    Saying, “This will never shed
Any glory or renown
    On my name when I am dead.

“I will sing a lordly song
    Men shall hear, when I am gone,
Through the years sound clear and strong
    As a golden clarion.”

So this lordly song he sang
    That would gain him deathless fame—
When the death-knell o’er him rang
    No man even knew its name.

Ay, and when his way he found
    To the place of singing souls,
And beheld their bright heads crowned
    With song-woven aureoles,

He stood shame-faced in the throng,
    For his brow of wreath was bare,
And, alas! his lordly song
    Sere had grown in that sweet air;

Then, all sudden, a divine
    Light fell on him from afar,
And he felt the child-song shine
    On his forehead like a star.

So for ever. Each and all
    Songs of passion or of mirth
That are not heart-pure shall fall
    As a sky-lark’s—to the earth;

But the soul’s song has no bounds—
    Like the voice of Israfel,
From the heaven of heavens it sounds
    To the very hell of hell.

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