In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
        “Whose heart-strings are a lute;”
    None sing so wildly well
    As the angel Israfel,
    And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
    Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
        Of his voice, all mute.

    Tottering above
        In her highest noon
        The enamoured moon
    Blushes with love,
        While, to listen, the red levin
        (With the rapid Pleiads, even,
        (Which were seven,)
        Pauses in Heaven.

    And they say (the starry choir
        And all the listening things)
    That Israfeli’s fire
    Is owing to that lyre
        By which he sits and sings—
    The trembling living wire
    Of those unusual strings.

    But the skies that angel trod,
        Where deep thoughts are a duty—
    Where Love’s a grown up God—
        Where the Houri glances are
    Imbued with all the beauty
        Which we worship in a star.

    Therefore, thou art not wrong,
        Israfeli, who despisest
    An unimpassion’d song:
    To thee the laurels belong
        Best bard, because the wisest!
    Merrily live, and long!

    The ecstasies above
        With thy burning measures suit—
    Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
    With the fervor of thy lute—
    Well may the stars be mute!

    Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
        Is a world of sweets and sours;
        Our flowers are merely—flowers,
    And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
        Is the sunshine of ours.

    If I could dwell
    Where Israfel
        Hath dwelt, and he where I,
    He might not sing so wildly well
         A mortal melody,
    While a bolder note than this might swell
        From my lyre within the sky.

This poem is in the public domain.