The Music of Beauty
To me thy lips are mute, but when I gaze
Upon thee in thy perfect loveliness,—
No trait that should not be—no lineament
To jar with the exquisite harmony
Of Beauty’s music, breathing to the eyes,
I pity those who think they pity me;
Who drink the tide that gushes from thy lips
Unconscious of its sweets, as if they were
E’en as I am—and turn their marble eyes
Upon thy loveliness, without the thrill
That maddens me with joy’s delirium.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 8, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
“‘I pity those who think they pity me,’ quips the Deaf speaker of James Nack’s eleven-line poem ‘The Music of Beauty.’ Published in 1827, a mere decade after the establishment of the first permanent Deaf school in the United States (Nack himself attended the second one to be founded), this poem is the first of an enduring trope in Deaf poetry, one that expresses disdain for, even mockery of, hapless and ignorant hearing people. Nack jeers at the marble-eyed who cannot see beauty properly. But perhaps he should have been kinder to them, for he did win the hand of his hearing childhood sweetheart, and it was reported that their family life, which included three daughters, was ‘one of great felicity.’”
—John Lee Clark