The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/Ode to Silence

For other versions of this work, see Ode to Silence.


O thou, sublime, who on the throne
Of eyeless Night sat, awful and alone,
Before the birth of Cronos,—brooding deep
Upon the voiceless waters which asleep
Held all things circled in their gelid zone:
O Silence! how approach thy shrine
Nor falter in the listening void to raise
A mortal voice in praise,
Nor wrong with words such eloquence as thine?

Amid the fragrant forest hush,
The nightingale or solitary-thrush
May, on thy quiet breaking, give no wound;
For they such beauty bring as all redeems,
Nor fear to interrupt thy dreams
Or trouble thy Nirvana with a sound!

And though more fitting worship seem the breath
Of violets in the sequestered wood,
The zephyr that low whispereth
To the heart of Solitude,
The first unfolding of the bashful rose
That noiseless by the wayside buds and blows;

More fitting worship the far drift of clouds
O'er azure floating with a swan-like motion,
The Siren-lays faint heard amid the shrouds,
The voiceless swell of the unfathomed ocean,
The silver Dian pours on the calm stream
Where pale the lotus-blossoms lie adream,—

Yet, mother of all high imaginings,
In whom is neither barrenness nor dearth,
Wise guardian of the sacred springs
Whose fresh primordial waters heal the earth,—
O soul of muted fire,
Of whom is born the passionate desire
That gives to beauty birth,—

All music that hath been, howe'er divine,
All possibilities of sound are thine!
The syrinx-reed, the flute Apollo owns,
Symphonic chords, and lyric overtones,
First draw their inspiration at thy shrine.
There come heart-broken mortal things;
There once again they find their wings;
There garner dreams benign,—
O nurse of genius! unto whom belong
Beethoven's harmonies and Homer's deathless song!