music of the storm!
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras!
serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature’s
rhythmus, all the tongues of nations;
You chords left us by vast
composers! you choruses!
You formless, free, religious dances! you from
You undertone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts;
sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry!
Echoes of camps, with
all the different bugle-calls!
Trooping tumultuous, filling the
midnight late, bending me powerless,
Entering my lonesome
slumber-chamber—Why have you seiz’d
forward, O my Soul, and let the rest retire;
Listen—lose not—it is
toward thee they tend;
Parting the midnight, entering my
For thee they sing and dance, O Soul.
The duet of the bridegroom and the bride—a
With lips of love, and hearts of lovers, fill’d to the
brim with love;
The red-flush’d cheeks, and perfumes—the cortege
swarming, full of friendly faces, young and old,
To flutes’ clear
notes, and sounding harps’
loud approaching drums!
Victoria! see’st thou in powder-smoke the
banners torn but flying? the rout of the baffled?
Hearest those shouts
of a conquering army?
(Ah, Soul, the sobs of women—the wounded
groaning in agony,
The hiss and crackle of flames—the blacken’d
ruins—the embers of cities,
The dirge and desolation of
airs antique and medieval fill me!
I see and hear old harpers with
their harps, at Welsh festivals:
I hear the minnesingers, singing their
lays of love,
I hear the minstrels, gleemen, troubadours, of the feudal
the great organ sounds,
Tremulous—while underneath, (as the hid
footholds of the earth,
On which arising, rest, and leaping forth,
All shapes of beauty, grace and strength—all hues we
Green blades of grass, and warbling birds—children that gambol
and play—the clouds of heaven above,)
The strong base stands, and its
pulsations intermits not,
Bathing, supporting, merging all the
rest—maternity of all the rest;
And with it every instrument in
The players playing—all the world’s musicians,
solemn hymns and masses, rousing adoration,
heart-chants, sorrowful appeals,
The measureless sweet vocalists of
And for their solvent setting, Earth’s own diapason,
and woods and mighty ocean waves;
A new composite orchestra—binder of
years and climes—ten-fold renewer,
As of the far-back days the poets
The straying thence, the separation long, but now
the wandering done,
The journey done, the Journeyman come home,
Man and Art, with Nature fused
for Earth and Heaven!
The Almighty Leader now for me, for once has
signal’d with his wand.
The manly strophe of the husbands of the
And all the wives responding.
The tongues of
(I think, O tongues, ye tell this heart, that cannot tell
This brooding, yearning heart, that cannot tell itself.)
from a little child,
Thou knowest, Soul, how to me all sounds became
My mother’s voice, in lullaby or hymn;
(The voice—O tender
voices—memory’s loving voices!
Last miracle of all—O dearest mother’s,
The rain, the growing corn, the breeze among the
The measur’d sea-surf, beating on the sand,
twittering bird, the hawk’s sharp scream,
The wild-fowl’s notes at
night, as flying low, migrating north or south,
The psalm in the
country church, or mid the clustering trees, the open air
The fiddler in the tavern—the glee, the long-strung
The lowing cattle, bleating sheep—the crowing cock at
songs of current lands come sounding ’round me,
The German airs of
friendship, wine and love,
Irish ballads, merry jigs and dances—English
Chansons of France, Scotch tunes—and o’er the
Italia’s peerless compositions.
Across the stage, with
pallor on her face, yet lurid passion,
Stalks Norma, brandishing the
dagger in her hand.
I see poor crazed Lucia’s eyes’ unnatural
Her hair down her back falls loose and dishevell’d.
where Ernani, walking the bridal garden,
Amid the scent of night-roses,
radiant, holding his bride by the hand,
Hears the infernal call, the
death-pledge of the horn.
To crossing swords, and grey hairs bared
The clear, electric base and baritone of the world,
trombone duo—Libertad forever!
From Spanish chestnut trees’ dense
By old and heavy convent walls, a wailing song,
Song of lost
love—the torch of youth and life quench’d in despair,
Song of the dying
swan—Fernando’s heart is breaking.
Awaking from her woes at last,
retriev’d Amina sings;
Copious as stars, and glad as morning light,
the torrents of her joy.
(The teeming lady comes!
orb—Venus contralto—the blooming mother,
Sister of loftiest
gods—Alboni’s self I
hear those odes, symphonies, operas;
I hear in the William Tell, the
music of an arous’d and angry people;
I hear Meyerbeer’s Huguenots, the
Prophet, or Robert;
Gounod’s Faust, or Mozart’s Don
hear the dance-music of all nations,
The waltz, (some delicious
measure, lapsing, bathing me in bliss;)
The bolero, to tinkling guitars
and clattering castanets.
I see religious dances old and new,
hear the sound of the Hebrew lyre,
I see the Crusaders marching,
bearing the cross on high, to the martial clang of cymbals;
dervishes monotonously chanting, interspers’d with frantic shouts, as they
spin around, turning always towards Mecca;
I see the rapt religious
dances of the Persians and the Arabs;
Again, at Eleusis, home of Ceres,
I see the modern Greeks dancing,
I hear them clapping their hands, as
they bend their bodies,
I hear the metrical shuffling of their
I see again the wild old Corybantian dance, the performers
wounding each other;
I see the Roman youth, to the shrill sound of
flageolets, throwing and catching their weapons,
As they fall on their
knees, and rise again.
I hear from the Mussulman mosque the muezzin
I see the worshippers within, (nor form, nor sermon, argument,
But silent, strange, devout—rais’d, glowing heads—extatic
hear the Egyptian harp of many strings,
The primitive chants of the
The sacred imperial hymns of China,
To the delicate
sounds of the king, (the stricken wood and stone;)
Or to Hindu flutes,
and the fretting twang of the vina,
A band of
Asia, Africa leave me—Europe, seizing, inflates me;
To organs huge, and
bands, I hear as from vast concourses of voices,
Luther’s strong hymn,
Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott;
Rossini’s Stabat Mater dolorosa;
floating in some high cathedral dim, with gorgeous color’d windows,
passionate Agnus Dei, or Gloria in
And you, sweet singers of old lands—Soprani! Tenori!
To you a new bard, carolling free in the west,
sends his love.
(Such led to thee, O Soul!
All senses, shows and
objects, lead to thee,
But now, it seems to me, sound leads o’er all
hear the annual singing of the children in St. Paul’s Cathedral;
under the high roof of some colossal hall, the symphonies, oratorios of
Beethoven, Handel, or Haydn;
The Creation, in billows of godhood laves
Give me to hold all sounds, (I, madly struggling, cry,)
me with all the voices of the universe,
Endow me with their
The tempests, waters, winds—operas and
chants—marches and dances,
Utter—pour in—for I would take them
I woke softly,
And pausing, questioning awhile the music of my
And questioning all those reminiscences—the tempest in its fury,
And all the songs of sopranos and tenors,
And those rapt oriental
dances, of religious fervor,
And the sweet varied instruments, and the
diapason of organs,
And all the artless plaints of love, and grief and
I said to my silent, curious Soul, out of the bed of the
Come, for I have found the clue I sought so
Let us go forth refresh’d amid the day,
life, walking the world, the real,
Nourish’d henceforth by our
And I said, moreover,
Haply, what thou hast
heard, O Soul, was not the sound of winds,
Nor dream of raging storm,
nor sea-hawk’s flapping wings, nor harsh scream,
Nor vocalism of
Nor German organ majestic—nor vast concourse of
voices—nor layers of harmonies;
Nor strophes of husbands and wives—nor
sound of marching soldiers,
Nor flutes, nor harps, nor the bugle-calls
But, to a new rhythmus fitted for thee,
the way from Life to Death, vaguely wafted in night air, uncaught,
Which, let us go forth in the bold day, and