Monday, May 20, 2013


Within a castle haunted,
     As castles were of old,
   There hung a harp enchanted,
     And on its rim of gold
      This legend was enscroIled:
"Whatever bard would win me,
Must strike and wake within me,
By one Supreme endeavor
A chord that sounds forever."
Three bards of lyre and viol,
    By mandate of the king,
Were bidden to the trial
   To find the magic string,
    (If there were such a thing).
Then, after much essaying
Of tuning, came the playing;
And lords and ladies splendid
Watched as those bards contended.
The first-a minstrel hoary,
   Who many a rhyme had spun­
    Sang loud of war and glory­
   Of battles fought and won;
But when his song was done,
Although the bard was lauded,
And clapping hands applauded,
Yet, spite of the laudation
The harp ceased its vibration.
The second changed the measure
   And turned from fire and sword
            To sing a song of pleasure­
   The wine-cup and the board­
Till, at the wit, all roared.
And the high walls resounded
With merriment unbounded!
The harp-loud as the laughter
 Grew hushed at that, soon after.
The third, in lover's fashion,
   And with his soul on fire,
            Then sang of love's pure passion­
   The heart and its desire!
And, as he smote the wire,
The listeners, gathering round him,
 Caught up a wreath and crowned him,
The crown-hath faded never!
The harp--resounds forever!
Theodore Tilton.

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