Legends and Lyrics (1863)/Unexpressed
DWELLS within the soul of every Artist
More than all his effort can express;
And he knows the best remains unuttered;
Sighing at what we call his success.
Vainly he may strive; he dare not tell us
All the sacred mysteries of the skies:
Vainly he may strive; the deepest beauty
Cannot be unveiled to mortal eyes.
And the more devoutly that he listens,
And the holier message that is sent,
Still the more his soul must struggle vainly,
Bowed beneath a noble discontent.
No great Thinker ever lived, and taught you
All the wonder that his soul received;
No true Painter ever set on canvas
All the glorious vision he conceived.
No Musician ever held your spirit
Charmed and bound in his melodious chains,
But be sure he heard, and strove to render,
Feeble echoes of celestial strains.
No real Poet ever wove in numbers
All his dream; but the diviner part,
Hidden from all the world, spake to him only
In the voiceless silence of his heart.
So with Love: for Love and Art united
Are twin mysteries; different yet the same:
Poor indeed would be the love of any
Who could find its full and perfect name.
Love may strive, but vain is the endeavour
All its boundless riches to unfold;
Still its tenderest, truest secret lingers
Ever in its deepest depths untold.
Things of Time have voices: speak and perish.
Art and Love speak—but their words must be
Like sighings of illimitable forests,
And waves of an unfathomable sea.
Excerpts from this poem are found etched on seven tablets located on the walls (north and south) of the North Corridor of the Thomas Jefferson Building (Library of Congress). See: http://www.loc.gov/loc/walls/jeff2.html