Emma Lazarus

22 July 1849 – 19 November 1887 / New York City / United States

Lohengrin: Proem

THE alert and valiant faith that could respond,
Upon life's threshold, to the highest call,
Unquestioning of what might lie beyond,—
Courage afield and courtesy in hall,
And sweet, unbroken patience therewithal,
And simple loyalty,— can these things be
The virtues that have died with chivalry?

The lapsing stream that leads to love and fate,
Now mystic-shadowed, and now broad and free,
Reflecting all the gold of heaven's gate;
The snowy bird's symbolic purity,
The toilsome contest and the victory,
The troubled joy of life, and after these,
The crowning guerdon of the perfect peace,—

These dreams have filled my dazzled sense and brain,
With images so vivid that at last
I wake to life and find them all again
Repeated in the present as the past,
The hues recolored and the forms recast;
And in familiar eyes I see outshine
The old heroic faith in love divine.

No empty fable of a day long dead,
No baseless vision of some sanguine saint,
No legend, only half rememberéd,
Of prowess obsolete and virtues quaint;
But be this rather a reflection faint
Of that which taught me how the near and real
Surpass in strength and beauty the ideal.
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