Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

4.10.5: “Merlin” (1837)

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)


    Thy trivial harp will never please
    Or fill my craving ear;
    Its chords should ring as blows the breeze,
    Free, peremptory, clear.
    No jingling serenader’s art,
    Nor tinkle of piano strings,
    Can make the wild blood start
    In its mystic springs.
    The kingly bard
    Must smite the chords rudely and hard.
    As with hammer or with mace;
    That they may render back
    Artful thunder, which conveys
    Secrets of the solar track,
    Sparks of the supersolar blaze.
    Merlin’s blows are strokes of fate,
    Chiming with the forest tone,
    When boughs buffet boughs in the wood;
    Chiming with the gasp and moan
    Of the ice-imprisoned flood;
    With the pulse of manly hearts;
    With the voice of orators;
    With the din of city arts;
    With the cannonade of wars;
    With the marches of the brave;
    And prayers of might from martyrs’ cave.
    Great is the art,
    Great be the manners, of the bard.
    He shall not his brain encumber
    With the coil of rhythm and number;
    But, leaving rule and pale forethought,
    He shall aye climb
    For his rhyme.
    ‘Pass in, pass in,’ the angels say,
    ‘In to the upper doors,
    Nor count compartments of the floors,
    But mount to paradise
    By the stairway of surprise.’
    Blameless master of the games,
    King of sport that never shames,
    He shall daily joy dispense
    Hid in song’s sweet influence.
    Forms more cheerly live and go,
    What time the subtle mind
    Sings aloud the tune whereto
    Their pulses beat,
    And march their feet,
    And their members are combined.
    By Sybarites beguiled,
    He shall no task decline;
    Merlin’s mighty line
    Extremes of nature reconciled,—
    Bereaved a tyrant of his will,
    And made the lion mild.
    Songs can the tempest still,
    Scattered on the stormy air,
    Mould the year to fair increase,
    And bring in poetic peace.
    He shall not seek to weave,
    In weak, unhappy times,
    Efficacious rhymes;
    Wait his returning strength.
    Bird that from the nadir’s floor
    To the zenith’s top can soar,—
    The soaring orbit of the muse exceeds that journey’s length.
    Nor profane affect to hit
    Or compass that, by meddling wit,
    Which only the propitious mind
    Publishes when ‘t is inclined.
    There are open hours
    When the God’s will sallies free,
    And the dull idiot might see
    The flowing fortunes of a thousand years;—
    Sudden, at unawares,
    Self-moved, fly-to the doors,
    Nor sword of angels could reveal
    What they conceal.


    The rhyme of the poet
    Modulates the king’s affairs;
    Balance-loving Nature
    Made all things in pairs.
    To every foot its antipode;
    Each color with its counter glowed;
    To every tone beat answering tones,
    Higher or graver;
    Flavor gladly blends with flavor;
    Leaf answers leaf upon on the bough;
    And match the paired cotyledons.
    Hands to hands, and feet to feet,
    In one body grooms and brides;
    Eldest rite, two married sides
    In every mortal meet.
    Light’s far furnace shines,
    Smelting balls and bars,
    Forging double stars,
    Glittering twins and trines.
    The animals are sick with love,
    Lovesick with rhyme;
    Each with all propitious Time
    Into chorus wove.
    Like the dancers’ ordered band,
    Thoughts come also hand in hand;
    In equal couples mated,
    Or else alternated;
    Adding by their mutual gage,
    One to other, health and age.
    Solitary fancies go
    Short-lived wandering to and fro,
    Most like to bachelors,
    Or an ungiven maid,
    Not ancestors,
    With no posterity to make the lie afraid,
    Or keep truth undecayed.
    Perfect-paired as eagle’s wings,
    Justice is the rhyme of things;
    Trade and counting use
    The self-same tuneful muse;
    And Nemesis,
    Who with even matches odd,
    Who athwart space redresses
    The partial wrong,
    Fills the just period,
    And finishes the song.
    Subtle rhymes, with ruin rife,
    Murmur in the house of life,
    Sung by the Sisters as they spin;
    In perfect time and measure they
    Build and unbuild our echoing clay.
    As the two twilights of the day
    Fold us music-drunken in.

    4.10.5: “Merlin” (1837) is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?