The Echo and the Quest

By George Sterling

Now, as the west is red, O birds!
  My clumsy arts you bring to naught:
  A victim of the curse of thought,
I tell its pain in trammeling words—

Your music mocks the bitter lay!
  Idle as any song of mine
  The melody from copse or pine—
Born at the dying of the day;

But oh! the full accomplishment!
  Reproach unplanned but exquisite!
  Hark how the unpurchased throats transmit
The tidings of a world content!

To you the tale is all of joy,
  But we from rapture ask its pang;
  And tho' an angel came and sang,
Our hearts would worship—and destroy.

And tho for ecstasy you sing,
  Our dim dissent awaits your tale,
  And in the song there seems to wail
Another message than you bring:

Unmastered still by disbelief,
  You tell our doubts in twilight strain;
  Untouched by man's perennial pain,
You give some echo of his grief;

Or so we dream. The very wind
  Serves at the soul's Aeolian chords;
  Rulers dismayed, uncertain lords,
In all we find, ourselves we find.

But you escape the nets of care.
  Wither at last my feet shall go
  I know not: from your song I know
You find the truth, and find it fair.

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