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Prologue of the Earthly Paradise

William Morris
Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,  
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,  
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,  
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,  
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears, 
Or hope again for aught that I can say,  
The idle singer of an empty day.  
  
But rather, when aweary of your mirth,  
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,  
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,  
Grudge every minute as it passes by,  
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die—  
—Remember me a little then I pray,  
The idle singer of an empty day.  
  
The heavy trouble, the bewildering care 
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,  
These idle verses have no power to bear;  
So let me sing of names remembered,  
Because they, living not, can ne’er be dead,  
Or long time take their memory quite away 
From us poor singers of an empty day.  
  
Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,  
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?  
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme  
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate  
To those who in the sleepy region stay,  
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.  
  
Folk say, a wizard to a northern king  
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,  
And through another saw the summer glow,  
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,  
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,  
Piped the drear wind of that December day.
  
So with this Earthly Paradise it is,  
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,  
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss  
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,  
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,  
Not the poor singer of an empty day.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

William Morris

by this poet

poem
Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
   Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder
   And this day draw a veil over all deeds