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Spirit of Beauty, that was sought of old,
And won to incarnations manifold,
By such as knew that, though like life and fair
The forms they wrought, yet wert thou wanting there,
All were but corpses, doomed to fall away
From their first shape to formless swift decay;
Who therefore with strong prayer and earnest spell
Strove to enforce thee in the shrines to dwell
Which they were rearing, and built up before
A heart's high altar, from all fields of lore
Neglected or untrodden thereon heaping
Rich odorous sweets, and patient vigil keeping
With undiminished faith that in the end
A quickening spark would on that heap descend--
'Tis thou that giv'st whatever is its worth,
Thou art the incense that doth sweeten earth,
And thy outpouring, as of chancel wine,
Can make the meanest goblet most divine;
And though from marshy grounds low mists arise,
And we ourselves would sometimes veil our eyes
Against thee, still upon our fear and doubt
And darkness thou persistest to look out,
And smilest on our solitary need,
Till we are reassured, and onward speed.


Yet looking out upon this life of ours,
And all that would lay waste our pleasant bowers,
Times are there when i could stand still in fear,
Mute and almost expecting I should hear
From hill and meadow, spring and waterfall,
Oracular cave and forest, and from all
Of thine wherein we glory and rejoice
And have our life, an universal voice
As of departing Pan; and thence this earth
Should be as drear as some extinguished hearth,
And we should wonder that the old delight,
The triumph and traditionary might,
Had passed from story and from ancient song,
Which moved no more than some forgotten tongue,
And from the face and from the voice of woman,
And all things which are beautiful and human;
Not understanding that ourselves had wrought
This desolation, this bereavement brought
On us and ours. But oh! if this belief
Be but the mournful shaping of our grief,
If in our heart of hearts thou yet dost dwell,
Though in a foe-encompassed citadel,
And from that fortress issuing wilt regain
One day the limits of thine old domain,
Gathering e'en now high hopes, which undefeated
To their last ark of refuge have retreated,
Oh let them bear thy banner, those who feel
That only in thy service lies their weal,
And that to flee thee is despair and woe,
Though 'tis most hard to follow; and who know
That thee once seen we evermore must seek
With love untiring, or thou else wilt wreak
Worse than Diana's wrath on him who sees
Thy beauty unattired, and after flees;
Nor wots he can be only at thy side
And in thy recognition glorified.