Epigrams

'Tis human fortune's happiest height to be
A spirit melodious, lucid, poised, and whole;
Second in order of felicity
I hold it, to have walk'd with such a soul.

* * * * *

The statue--Buonarroti said--doth wait,
Thrall'd in the block, for me to emancipate.
The poem--saith the poet--wanders free
Till I betray it to captivity.

* * * * *

To keep in sight Perfection, and adore
The vision, is the artist's best delight;
His bitterest pang, that he can ne'er do more
Than keep her long'd-for loveliness in sight.

* * * * *

If Nature be a phantasm, as thou say'st,
A splendid fiction and prodigious dream,
To reach the real and true I'll make no haste,
More than content with worlds that only seem.

* * * * *

The Poet gathers fruit from every tree,
Yea, grapes from thorns and figs from thistles he.
Pluck'd by his hand, the basest weed that grows
Towers to a lily, reddens to a rose.

* * * * *

Brook, from whose bridge the wandering idler peers
To watch thy small fish dart or cool floor shine,
I would that bridge whose arches all are years
Spann'd not a less transparent wave than thine!

* * * * *

To Art we go as to a well, athirst,
And see our shadow 'gainst its mimic skies,
But in its depth must plunge and be immersed
To clasp the naiad Truth where low she lies.

* * * * *

In youth the artist voweth lover's vows
To Art, in manhood maketh her his spouse.
Well if her charms yet hold for him such joy
As when he craved some boon and she was coy!

* * * * *

Immured in sense, with fivefold bonds confined,
Rest we content if whispers from the stars
In waftings of the incalculable wind
Come blown at midnight through our prison-bars.

* * * * *

Love, like a bird, hath perch'd upon a spray
For thee and me to hearken what he sings.
Contented, he forgets to fly away;
But hush!... remind not Eros of his wings.

* * * * *

Think not thy wisdom can illume away
The ancient tanglement of night and day.
Enough, to acknowledge both, and both revere:
They see not clearliest who see all things clear.

* * * * *

In mid whirl of the dance of Time ye start,
Start at the cold touch of Eternity,
And cast your cloaks about you, and depart:
The minstrels pause not in their minstrelsy.

* * * * *

The beasts in field are glad, and have not wit
To know why leapt their hearts when springtime shone.
Man looks at his own bliss, considers it,
Weighs it with curious fingers; and 'tis gone.

* * * * *

Momentous to himself as I to me
Hath each man been that ever woman bore;
Once, in a lightning-flash of sympathy,
I _felt_ this truth, an instant, and no more.

* * * * *

The gods man makes he breaks; proclaims them each
Immortal, and himself outlives them all:
But whom he set not up he cannot reach
To shake His cloud-dark sun-bright pedestal.

* * * * *

The children romp within the graveyard's pale;
The lark sings o'er a madhouse, or a gaol;--
Such nice antitheses of perfect poise
Chance in her curious rhetoric employs.

* * * * *

Our lithe thoughts gambol close to God's abyss,
Children whose home is by the precipice.
Fear not thy little ones shall o'er it fall:
Solid, though viewless, is the girdling wall.

* * * * *

Lives there whom pain hath evermore pass'd by
And Sorrow shunn'd with an averted eye?
Him do thou pity, him above the rest,
Him of all hapless mortals most unbless'd.

* * * * *

Say what thou wilt, the young are happy never.
Give me bless'd Age, beyond the fire and fever,--
Past the delight that shatters, hope that stings,
And eager flutt'ring of life's ignorant wings.

* * * * *

Onward the chariot of the Untarrying moves;
Nor day divulges him nor night conceals;
Thou hear'st the echo of unreturning hooves
And thunder of irrevocable wheels.

* * * * *

A deft musician does the breeze become
Whenever an Æolian harp it finds:
Hornpipe and hurdygurdy both are dumb
Unto the most musicianly of winds.

* * * * *

I follow Beauty; of her train am I:
Beauty whose voice is earth and sea and air;
Who serveth, and her hands for all things ply;
Who reigneth, and her throne is everywhere.

* * * * *

Toiling and yearning, 'tis man's doom to see
No perfect creature fashion'd of his hands.
Insulted by a flower's immaculacy,
And mock'd at by the flawless stars he stands.<
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William Watson

William Watson, was a surgeon in the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers during the American Civil War. more…

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"Epigrams" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 16 Oct. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/41993/epigrams>.

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