A Distant Song

Whether awake or sleeping,
   I cannot rest for long:
By my casement comes creeping
  A distant song.

A song like the chiming of silver
  Bells which the breezes play,
Seeming to float for ever
  Towards an unseen day:

A song that is weary with sorrow,
  Yet knows not any defeat:
Through the past, through to-day, through to-morrow,
  It echoes on life’s long street.

Could I but make words of its power,
  Bring it from the future here,
Men’s souls would be waking, that hour,
  To the victory against fear.

But the vague sweet stanza befools me
  With its calm joy, time after time,
And no failure here ever schools me
  To cease from an idle rhyme.

That music afar, unspoken,
    ’Tis I have done it wrong:
I caught, and I have broken,
    A distant song. 


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 29, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“A Distant Song” appeared in Fire and Wine (G. Richards, 1913).