Address, At The Opening of a New Theatre

Where dwells the Drama's spirit? not alone
Beneath the palace roof, beside the throne,
In learning's cloisters, friendship's festal bowers,
Art's pictured halls, or triumph's laurel'd towers,
Where'er man's pulses beat or passions play,
She joys to smile or sigh his thoughts away:
Crowd times and scenes within her ring of power,
And teach a life's experience in an hour.

To-night she greets, for the first time, our dome,
Her latest, may it prove her lasting home;
And we her messengers delighted stand,
The summon'd Ariels of her mystic wand,
To ask your welcome. Be it yours to give
Bliss to her coming hours, and bid her live
Within these walls new hallow'd in her cause,
Long in the nurturing warmth of your applause.

'Tis in the public smiles, the public loves,
His dearest home, the actor breathes and moves,
Your plaudits are to us and to our art
As is the life-blood to the human heart:
And every power that bids the leaf be green,
In nature acts on this her mimic scene.
Our sunbeams are the sparklings of glad eyes,
Our winds the whisper of applause, that flies
From lip to lip, the heart-born laugh of glee,
And sounds of cordial hands that ring out merrily,
And heaven's own dew falls on us in the tear
That woman weeps o'er sorrows pictured here,
When crowded feelings have no words to tell
The might, the magic of the actor's spell.

These have been ours; and do we hope in vain
Here, oft and deep, to feel them ours again?
No! while the weary heart can find repose
From its own pains in fiction's joys or woes;
While there are open lips and dimpled cheeks,
When music breathes, or wit or humour speaks;
While Shakspeare's master spirit can call up
Noblest and worthiest thoughts, and brim the cup
Of life with bubbles bright as happiness,
Cheating the willing bosom into bliss;
So long will those who, in their spring of youth,
Have listen'd to the Drama's voice of truth,
Mark'd in her scenes the manners of their age,
And gather'd knowledge for a wider stage,
Come here to speed with smiles life's summer years,
And melt its winter snow with pleasant tears;
And younger hearts, when ours are hushed and cold,
Be happy here as we have been of old.

Friends of the stage, who hail it as the shrine
Where music, painting, poetry entwine
Their kindred garlands, whence their blended power
Refines, exalts, ennobles hour by hour
The spirit of the land, and, like the wind,
Unseen but felt, bears on the bark of mind;
To you the hour that consecrates this dome,
Will call up dreams of prouder hours to come,
When some creating poet, born your own,
May waken here the drama's loftiest tone,
Through after years to echo loud and long,
A Shakspeare of the West, a star of song,
Bright'ning your own blue skies with living fire,
All times to gladden and all tongues inspire,
Far as beneath the heaven by sea-winds fann'd,
Floats the free banner of your native land.

This poem is in the public domain.