The Perfect Orchestra


Up to those heights where angels rest,
Where dreams and yearnings unexpressed
Mount like the mist of day,
Ascends a solemn symphony
Soft gliding through the ethereal sea,
From mortal realms away.

Men moved by ecstasy or pain,
Conscious of all life ne'er can gain
Or rapt in visions fleet,
Musicians are: but through the hush
Of harmonies transcendent, rush
Hints of the incomplete.

On instruments unlike they play;
Some wake the lute with gentle lay,
Some touch the viol's string,
While others with unconscious art,
From the sad organ's deep-toned heart
Accents all soothing bring.

The noble thoughts, the earnest prayers
Of ev'ry one that meekly bears
The tangled skein of life,
Each holy prompting unto good,
Great aspirations oft withstood,
Yet cherished 'mid the strife,—

And truth that, like the lily's bowl,
Glistens with dew within the soul
And balmy fragrance show'rs,
Hopes that have made earth seem so glad,
Loves irresistible though sad,
Like brilliant thorn-clad flow'rs,—

These are the chords that beat and throb
Through the dream-quiet, like a sob
Tremulous with complaint.
As slow they flutter toward the goal,
Rare coils of mystery unroll
Melodies pure and quaint.

Unheard this strange, imploring psalm,
Save by some pensive seer, who calm
Leans on his dripping oar;
Safe-anchored on an island far,
Where life's unrest, its fev'rish jar
Can trouble nevermore.

To him in peaceful waves it comes,
Soft as the silver river hums
The silence to beguile.
From contemplation of the stars
Just peeping through the sunset bars,
He turns to list a while.

But angels on those heights sublime
Where naught save unison can climb,
Bend eager, loving ears;
Glad in mankind such good to see,
For there the music soareth free,
Piercing the spangled spheres.

Responding to this asking song,
This mystic music heard so long,
They lend their sympathy,
Which through the concord softly floats,
Like to a flute's clear, trilling notes
Heard on the moonlit sea.

The orchestra more perfect made,
The strains mount up where streets inlaid
With rare mosaic wind;
One cadence still is missing there,
The sweet Eolian's trembling prayer
No soul on earth could find.

Ascending near the radiant throne,
Sorrow pervades the music's tone,
Sorrow ne'er heard before;
Its quiver stirs the asphodels
And roses, where the streamlet wells,
Encircling all the shore.

God, who alone translates our pain,
Listens and gives unto the strain
His benediction calm;
And quickly that mysterious boon,
Like an Eolian's wind-played tune,
Makes perfect all the psalm.

Last updated March 25, 2023