To a friend, on being asked for some verses

        I thought the Soul of Song had made
            This heart of mine her sepulchre;
        For all her golden dreams had fled,
            And I could win no note from her.
        But when for thee thou bid'st her sing,
            That spell dissolves her icy chain;
        She slowly plumes her drooping wing,
            And strikes her shattered chords again.
        For more than lifeless would she be,
            If thou shouldst bid her wake in vain;
        And lost her chords, if still for thee
            She could not wake one living strain.
        For thee -- that hours of deep distress,
            And days of gloom with kindness lit,
        Till half I blessed the bitterness
            That gave me thee to sweeten it.
        For thee -- that when, despairing long,
            I said, "No friend has earth for me,"
        Didst bid the tones die on my tongue,
            And I could utter, "only thee."
        For thee -- that when my mother earth
            Shall call me to her sheltering breast,
        Of all I know wilt weep alone
            Above my nameless place of rest.
        But see! her wings refuse to fly;
            Her chords are harsh from silence long;
        Alas! thy gentle sorcery
            Hath summoned but the ghost of Song.
        She hovers o'er her living tomb,
            She seeks once more her grave and chain,
        As spectres haunt the midnight gloom:
            Sweet friend, awake her not again.
        If o'er the wind harp's gentle strings
            The threatening tempest rudely flies,
        It does not wake more thrilling strains --
            The chords are rent, the music dies.
        Thus is my harp, thus is my song --
            I woo in vain its sweetness fled,
        The storms have swept the chords too long,
            The music of my soul is dead.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.