20. Seeds in the Air
For an Album

"Igneus est ollis vigor, et cœlestis origo

COULD I hit on a theme
     To fashion my verse on,
Not long would I seem
     A lack-courtesy person.
But I have not the skill,
     Nor talisman strong,
To summon at will
     The Spirit of song.—
Bright thoughts are roaming
     Unseen in the air;
Like comets, their coming
     Is sudden and rare.
They strike, and they enter,
     And light up the brain,
Which thrills to its centre
     With rapturous pain. {60}
Where the chance-seed
     Is piously nursed,
Brighter succeed
     In the path of the first.—
One sighs to the Muse,
     Or the sweet nightingale,
One sips the night-dews
     Which moon-beams exhale.
All this is a fiction;
     I never could find
A suitable friction
     To frenzy my mind.
What use are empirics?
     No gas on their shelf
Can make one spout lyrics
     In spite of oneself!

July 18, 1831.

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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright 2007 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.