The Secret Key and Other Verses

The Splendour and the Curse of Song

George Essex Evans

METHOUGHT the unknown God we seek in vain
    Grew weary of the evil He had wrought—
The piteous litanies of human pain—
    Till here and there some lonely souls He sought
    To bear the message of Immortal Thought,
And sent them forth to wander ’midst the throng
Crowned with the splendour and the curse of Song.

But that which still was kindred to the stars
    Fought with the flesh and moaned within its cell,
And beat its wings against its prison bars.
    Thus, soaring oft to heights sublime, they fell,
    Dragged by the flesh into the gulfs of hell;
Till all their days were as a tumult long
Between the splendour and the curse of Song.

Yet often ’mid the fever of distress
    Some singer’s lips would chant so sweet a strain
That storm-tossed souls forgot their weariness,
    And comfort crept about the bed of pain,
    And men took heart and dreamt of heaven again;
And to the weak came hope and courage strong
Born of the beauty and the balm of Song.

But Life was bitter to the lips that sung;
    And heavier on those souls the curse did grow
Who strove to speak to men an unknown tongue,
    And mournfully their hearts did weigh and know
    The measure of the whole world’s cruel woe,
And wearily they fared Time’s path along
Vexed by the splendour and the curse of Song.

Theirs was the homeless hunger of the heart—
    Immortal thought within a mortal breast,
Listless they wandered through the crowded mart,
    Who to a careless world had given their best;
    And when Death lulled them with his wings to rest
What reeked they where they slumbered calm and strong
Crowned with the splendour of Immortal Song?

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