The Choir Invisible
O May I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence: live In pulses stirr'd to generosity, In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn For miserable aims that end with self, In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, And with their mild persistence urge man's search To vaster issues. So to live is heaven: To make undying music in the world, Breathing as beauteous order that controls With growing sway the growing life of man. So we inherit that sweet purity For which we struggled, fail'd, and agoniz'd With widening retrospect that bred despair. Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued, A vicious parent shaming still its child, Poor anxious penitence, is quick dissolv'd; Its discords, quench'd by meeting harmonies, Die in the large and charitable air. And all our rarer, better, truer self, That sobb'd religiously in yearning song, That watch'd to ease the burthen of the world, Laboriously tracing what must be, And what may yet be better,—saw within A worthier image for the sanctuary, And shap'd it forth before the multitude, Divinely human, raising worship so To higher reverence more mix'd with love,— That better self shall live till human Time Shall fold its eyelids, and the human sky Be gather'd like a scroll within the tomb Unread forever. This is life to come, Which martyr'd men have made more glorious For us who strive to follow. May I reach That purest heaven, be to other souls The cup of strength in some great agony, Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love, Beget the smiles that have no cruelty, Be the sweet presence of a good diffus'd, And in diffusion ever more intense! So shall I join the choir invisible Whose music is the gladness of the world.
This poem is in the public domain.