Later Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

The Winged Victory


 

THOU dear and most high Victory,
Whose home is the unvanquished sea,
Whose fluttering wind-blown garments keep
The very freshness, fold, and sweep
They wore upon the galley’s prow,
5
By what unwonted favor now
Hast thou alighted in this place,
Thou Victory of Samothrace?

O thou to whom in countless lands
With eager hearts and striving hands
10
Strong men in their last need have prayed,
Greatly desiring, undismayed,
And thou hast been across the fight
Their consolation and their might,
Withhold not now one dearer grace,
15
Thou Victory of Samothrace!

Behold, we, too, must cry to thee,
Who wage our strife with Destiny,
And give for Beauty and for Truth
Our love, our valor and our youth.
20
Are there no honors for these things
To match the pageantries of kings?
Are we more laggard in the race
Than those who fell at Samothrace?

Not only for the bow and sword,

25
O Victory, be thy reward!
The hands that work with paint and clay
In Beauty’s service, shall not they
Also with mighty faith prevail?
Let hope not die, nor courage fail
30
But joy come with thee pace for pace,
As once long since in Samothrace.

Grant us the skill to shape the form
And spread the color living-warm,
(As they who wrought aforetime did),
35
Where love and wisdom shall lie hid,
In fair impassioned types, to sway
The cohorts of the world to-day,
In Truth’s eternal cause, and trace
Thy glory down from Samothrace.
40

With all the ease and splendid poise
Of one who triumphs without noise,
Wilt thou not teach us to attain
Thy sense of power without strain,
That we a little may possess
45
Our souls with thy sure loveliness,—
That calm the years cannot deface,
Thou Victory of Samothrace?

Then in the ancient ceaseless war
With infamy, go thou before!
50
Amid the shoutings and the drums
Let it be learned that Beauty comes,
Man's matchless Paladin to be,
Whose rule shall make his spirit free
As thine from all things mean or base,
55
Thou Victory of Samothrace.