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O May I Join the Choir Invisible! by George Eliot

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O MAY I JOIN THE CHOIR INVISIBLE!

BY GEORGE ELIOT

AND OTHER FAVORITE POEMS

_ILLUSTRATED_

BOSTON D. LOTHROP AND COMPANY FRANKLIN AND HAWLEY STREETS

Copyright by D. LOTHROP AND COMPANY 1884

{"May I reach that purest Heaven!": p0.jpg}

O MAY I JOIN THE CHOIR INVISIBLE!

O may I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence; live In pulses stirred to generosity, In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn Of miserable aims that end with self, In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, And with their mild persistence urge men's minds To vaster issues.

So to live is heaven: To make undying music in the world, Breathing a beauteous order that controls With growing sway the growing life of man. So we inherit that sweet purity For which we struggled, failed and agonized With widening retrospect that bred despair. Rebellious flesh that would not be subdued, A vicious parent shaming still its child, Poor, anxious penitence is quick dissolved; Its discords, quenched by meeting harmonies, Die in the large and charitable air; And all our rarer, better, truer self, That sobbed religiously in yearning song, That watched to ease the burden of the world, Laboriously tracing what must be, And what may yet be better--saw rather A worthier image for the sanctuary And shaped it forth before the multitude, Divinely human, raising worship so To higher reverence more mixed with love-- That better self shall live till human Time Shall fold its eyelids, and the human sky Be gathered like a scroll within the tomb Unread forever.

This is life to come, Which martyred men have made more glorious For us who strive to follow.

May I reach That purest heaven--be to other souls The cup of strength in some great agony, Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love, Beget the smiles that have no cruelty, Be the sweet presence of a good diffused, And in diffusion ever more intense! So shall I join the choir invisible Whose music is the gladness of the world.

HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX.

{At Aerschot up leaped of a sudden the Sun: p1.jpg}

I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris and he: I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; "Good speed!" cried the watch as the gate-bolts undrew, "Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through. Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace-- Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place; I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight, Then shortened each stirrup and set the pique right, Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit, Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear; At Boom a great yellow star came out to see; At Duffeld 'twas morning as plain as could be; And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime-- So Joris broke silence with "Yet there is time!"


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