Orion, and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

BALLAD OF THE POET’S THOUGHT


 

 
A POET was vexed with the fume of the street,
    With tumult wearied, with din distraught;
And very few of the passing feet
    Would stay to listen the truths he taught:
    And he said,—"My labor is all for naught;                                   
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I will go, and at Nature’s lips drink deep."—
    For he knew not the wealth of the poet’s thought,
Though sweet to win, was bitter to keep.

So he left the hurry, and dust, and heat
    For the free, green forest where man was not;                            
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And found in the wilderness’ deep retreat
    That favor with Nature which he sought.
    She spake with him, nor denied him aught,
In waking vision or visioned sleep,
    But little he guessed the wealth she brought,                               
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Though sweet to win, was bitter to keep.

But now when his bosom, grown replete,
    Would lighten itself in song of what
It had gathered in silence, he could meet
    No answering thrill from his passion caught.                               
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    Then grieving he fled from that quiet spot,
To where men work, and are weary, and weep;
    For he said,—"The wealth for which I wrought
Is sweet to win, but bitter to keep."

ENVOI

Oh, poets bewailing your hapless lot,                                       
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    That ye may not in Nature your whole hearts steep,
Know that the wealth of the poet’s thought
    Is sweet to win, but bitter to keep.