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"Music" by James Russell Lowell

The following is the complete text of James Russell Lowell's "Music." The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

Visit these other works by James Russell Lowell
"The Bobolink"
The Chief Mate
"The Courtin'"
"The Departed"
"A Dirge"
"A Glance Behind the Curtain"
"An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg"

"New Year's Eve, 1844"
"On the Death of a Friend's Child"
"The Pious Editor's Creed"
"The Present Crisis"
Lowell's Short Poems and Sonnets
"The Sirens"
"To The Future"

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.

Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, short story or poem.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain ebooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a short story or poem for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

"Music" by James Russell Lowell


by James Russell Lowell


I seem to lie with drooping eyes,
Dreaming sweet dreams,
Half longings and half memories,
In woods where streams
With trembling shades and whirling gleams,
Many and bright,
In song and light,
Are ever, ever flowing;
While the wind, if we list to the rustling grass,
Which numbers his footsteps as they pass,
Seems scarcely to be blowing;
And the far-heard voice of Spring,
From sunny slopes comes wandering,
Calling the violets from the sleep,
That bound them under the snow-drifts deep,
To open their childlike, asking eyes
On the new summer's paradise,
And mingled with the gurgling waters--
As the dreamy witchery
Of Achelous' silver-voiced daughters
Rose and fell with the heaving sea,
Whose great heart swelled with ecstacy--
The song of many a floating bird,
Winding through the rifted trees,
Is dreamily half-heard--
A sister stream of melodies
Rippled by the flutterings
Of rapture-quivered wings.


And now beside a cataract
I lie, and through my soul,
From over me and under,
The never-ceasing thunder
Arousingly doth roll;
Though the darkness all compact,
Through the trackless sea of gloom,
Sad and deep I hear it boom;
At intervals the cloud is cracked
And a livid flash doth hiss
Downward from its floating home,
Lighting up the precipice
And the never-resting foam
With a dim and ghastly glare,
Which, for a heart-beat, in the air,
Shows the sweeping shrouds
Of the midnight clouds
And their wildly-scattered hair.


Now listening to a woman's tone,
In a wood I sit alone--
Alone because our souls are one;--
All around my heart it flows,
Lulling me in deep repose;
I fear to speak, I fear to move,
Lest I should break the spell I love--
Low and gentle, calm and clear,
Into my inmost soul it goes,
As if my brother dear,
Who is no longer here,
Had bended from the sky
And murmured in my ear
A strain of that high harmony,
Which they may sing alone
Who worship round the throne.


Now in a fairy boat,
On the bright waves of song,
Full merrily I float,
Merrily float along;
My helm is veered, I care not how,
My white sail bellies over me,
And bright as gold the ripples be
That plash beneath the bow;
Before, behind,
They feel the wind,
And they are dancing joyously--
While, faintly heard, along the far-off shore
The surf goes plunging with a lingering roar;
Or anchored in a shadowy cove,
Entranced with harmonies,
Slowly I sink and rise
As the slow waves of music move.


Now softly dashing,
Bubbling, plashing,
Mazy, dreamy,
Faint and streamy,
Ripples into ripples melt,
Not so strongly heard as felt;
Now rapid and quick,
While the heart beats thick,
The music's silver wavelets crowd,
Distinct and clear, but never loud;
And now all solemnly and slow,
In mild, deep tones they warble low,
Like the glad song of angels, when
They sang good will and peace to men;
Now faintly heard and far,
As if the spirit's ears
Had caught the anthem of a star
Chanting with his brother-spheres
In the midnight dark and deep,
When the body is asleep
And wondrous shadows pour in streams
From the two-fold gate of dreams;
Now onward roll the billows, swelling
With a tempest-sound of might,
As of voices doom foretelling
To the silent ear of Night;
And now a mingled ecstasy
Of all sweet sounds it is;--
O! who may tell the agony
Of rapture such as this?


I have drunk of the drink of immortals,
I have drunk of the life-giving wine,
And now I may pass the bright portals
That open into a realm divine!
I have drunk it through mine ears
In the ecstasy of song,
When mine eyes would fill with tears
That its life were not more long;
I have drunk it through mine eyes
In beauty's every shape,
And now around my soul it lies,
No juice of earthly grape!
Wings! wings are given to me,
I can flutter, I can rise,
Like a new life gushing through me
Sweep the heavenly harmonies!

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