Oh! for pinions to bear me sunward,
Ever and ever higher and onward;
With a glance of pride, and a wing of might,
Cleaving a path through the starry skies,
As the soul of a poet that heavenward flies,
Daring the depths of the Infinite.
Soaring and singing, still upward aspire,
Trailing a path through the crimson fire,
Bathing in oceans of purple and gold,
Treading the glory that men behold,
Like far‐off fields of Elysian light,
Where angels walk in radiance bright;
And never to rest till the goal is won,
And I furl my wings at the blazing sun
I alone, the Conquering One!
Then, said Love, I will lend thee mine;
And with strange enchantments, and many a sign,
He bound on me the wings divine.
Onward, onward—higher, higher,
Seemed to bear me those wings of fire;
Over the earth, the clouds, the moon,
Till the portals of Heaven glittered soon.
But, ah! too near the Sun of Truth
I passed, in the vain, proud spirit of youth;
And Love’s cement could not, tho’ strong,
Retain the glowing pinions on;
And they fell from my heart, and left it bare;
And so I sank down weeping there,
Into the fathomless sea of despair.
Long I lay in depth of dole,
Till a Voice like a trumpet stirred my soul:
My wings, it said, will bear thee far,
Over yon highest glittering star.
Glorious thoughts of high emprize,
These will lift thee to the skies,
Where the goal of glory lies.
Trust thy own undaunted will,
Let ambition’s spirit fill
All thy being, till no height
Seems too distant or too bright,
Through the stars of upper air,
For a soul like thine to dare.
Then upon my spirit came
Flooding glory, like a flame;
And I soared away from the mountain height,
Filled with a strange and mad delight:
Away, away, over march and fen,
Over the heads of my fellow‐men;
Hearing their choral praises rise,
As I soared away through the pathless skies,
In ever‐echoing symphonies.
But never a rest till I reached the star
Ambition had pointed out afar;
Alas! I knew not the dazzling ray
Of its glory was made for no mortal sight
And I sank back dazed with excess of light.
Still the proud wings bore me on,
I knew not whether, my sight was gone;
But I heard the tempest raging round,
And the rolling thunder’s terrible sound,
As if all fierce passions were unbound.
And the wings Ambition had tied so fast,
Were rent from my soul by the tempest blast;
And down I sank to earth again,
Like the dead eagle on the plain,
By the blasting lightning slain.
Then I heard a low Voice near,
Murmuring softly in my ear:
Shall I give thee wings of power,
Wings that will thy spirit dower,
With a strength that, angel‐wise,
Up will waft thee to the skies?
Passing, unscathed, the Sun of Truth,
Fatal to wings of Love in sooth;
Past the false but glittering light,
Whose glory dimm’d thy mortal sight;
On, through the trackless firmament,
Where the wings Ambition lent,
By the stormy winds were rent.
Onward still, and ever higher,
Past the solar central fire,
Past the hymning angel choir;
Till thou standest at the Throne
Of the great Eternal One.
Ever more to dwell on high,
Breathing like a harmony,
Through the unnumber’d worlds that lie
Far in yon blue Infinity
Wilt thou have these wings of mine?
Murmured that low Voice divine.
Yet my touch is cold and chill,
Horror through thy heart would thrill,
Pale dismay thy bosom fill,
Could’st thou see me face to face.
Never one of human race
Could that dreadful sight behold;
Mortal lips have never told,
All the terrors that abide,
All the gloom, yet kingly pride,
In the pale form at thy side.
Ha! the cold sweat on thy brow,
As I bind them on thee now:
Canst thou bear the touch of pain,
For the glory thou shalt gain?
Then I asked, with faltering breath
Thy name, dread Spirit? and he saith
I who give these wings am Death!