The poet sang of a battle-field
Where doughty deeds were done,
Where stout blows rang on helm and shield
And a kingdom’s fate was spun
With the scarlet thread of victory,
And honor from death’s grim revelry
Like a flame-red flower was won!
So bravely he sang that all who heard
With the sting of the fight and the triumph were stirred,
And they cried, “Let us blazon his name on high,
He has sung a song that will never die!”
Again, full throated, he sang of fame
And ambition’s honeyed lure,
Of the chaplet that garlands a mighty name,
Till his listeners fired with the god-like flame
To do, to dare, to endure!
The thirsty lips of the world were fain
The cup of glamor he vaunted to drain,
And the people murmured as he went by,
“He has sung a song that will never die!”
And once more he sang, all low and apart,
A song of the love that was born in his heart:
Thinking to voice in unfettered strain
Its sweet delight and its sweeter pain;
Nothing he cared what the throngs might say
Who passed him unheeding from day to day,
For he only longed with his melodies
The soul of the one beloved to please.
The song of war that he sang is as naught,
For the field and its heroes are long forgot,
And the song he sang of fame and power
Was never remembered beyond its hour!
Only to-day his name is known
By the song he sang apart and alone,
And the great world pauses with joy to hear
The notes that were strung for a lover’s ear.