The Singer.

Unto the loud acclaim that rose1
To greet her as she came,2
She bent with lowly grace that seemed3
Such tribute to disclaim ;4
With arms meek folded on her breast5
And drooping head, she stood ;6
Then raised a glance that seemed to plead7
For youth and womanhood ;8
A soft, beseeching smile, a look,9
As if all silently10
The kindness to her heart she took,11
And put the homage by.12
She stood dejected then, methought,13
A Captive, though a Queen,14
Before the throng, when sudden passed15
A change across her mien.16
Unto her full, dilating eye,17
Unto her slender hand,18
There came a light of sovereignty,19
A gesture of command :20
And, to her lip, an eager flow21
Of song, that seemed to bear22
Her soul away on rushing wings23
Unto its native air ;24
Her eye was fixed ; her cheek flushed bright25
With power ; she seemed to call26
On spirits that around her flocked,27
The radiant Queen of all ;28
There was no pride upon her brow,29
No tumult in her breast ;30
Her soaring soul had won its home,31
And smiled there as at rest ;32
She felt no more those countless eyes33
Upon her ; she had gained34
A region where they troubled not35
The joy she had attained !36
Now, now, she spoke her native speech,37
An utterance fraught with spells38
To wake the echoes of the heart39
Within their slumber-cells ;40
For at her wild and gushing strain,41
The spirit was led back42
By windings of a silver chain,43
On many a long-lost track ;44
And many a quick unbidden sigh,45
And starting tear, revealed46
How surely at her touch the springs47
Of feeling were unsealed ;48
They who were always loved, seemed now49
Yet more than ever dear ;50
Yet closer to the heart they came,51
That ever were so near :52
And, trembling to the silent lips,53
As if they ne’er had changed54
Their names, returned in kindness back55
The severed and estranged ;56
And in the strain, like those that fall57
On wanderers as they roam,58
The Exiled Spirit found once more59
Its country and its home !60
She ceased, yet on her parted lips61
A happy smile abode,62
As if the sweetness of her song63
Yet lingered whence it flowed ;64
But, for a while, her bosom heaved,65
She was the same no more,66
The light and spirit fled ; she stood.67
As she had stood before ;68
Unheard, unheeded to her ear69
The shouts of rapture came,70
A voice had once more power to thrill,71
That only spoke her name.72
Unseen, unheeded at her feet,73
Fell many a bright bouquet ;74
A single flower, in silence given,75
Was once more sweet than they ;76
Her heart had with her song returned77
To days for ever gone,78
Ere Woman’s gift of Fame was her’s,79
The Many for the One.80
E’en thus, O, Earth, before thee81
Thy Poet Singers stand,82
And bear the soul upon their songs83
Unto its native land.84
And even thus, with loud acclaim,85
The praise of skill, of art,86
Is dealt to those who only speak.87
The language of the heart !88
While they who love and listen best,89
Can little guess or know90
The wounds that from the Singer’s breast91
Have bid such sweetness flow ;92
They know not mastership must spring93
From conflict and from strife.94
These, these are but the songs they sing ;”95
They are the Singer’s life !96