Temples he built and palaces of air, And, with the artist’s parent-pride aglow, His fancy saw his vague ideals grow Into creations marvelously fair; He set his foot upon Fame’s nether stair. But ah, his dream,—it had entranced him so He could not move. He could no farther go; But paused in joy that he was even there!
He did not wake until one day there gleamed Thro’ his dark consciousness a light that racked His being till he rose, alert to act. But lo! What he had dreamed, the while he dreamed, Another, wedding action unto thought, Into the living, pulsing world had brought.
from "The Book of American Negro Poetry" by James Weldon Johnson
The splendor falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story; The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
O, hark, O, hear! how thin and clear, And thinner, clearer, farther going! O, sweet and far from cliff and scar The horns of Elfland faintly blowing! Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying, Blow, bugles; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
O love, they die in yon rich sky, They faint on hill or field or river; Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow forever and forever. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate, wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee—and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll – How frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human Soul –
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.