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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Life and Song

By Sidney Lanier (1842–1881)

IF life were caught by a clarionet,

And a wild heart, throbbing in the reed,

Should thrill its joy, and trill its fret,

And utter its heart in every deed,

Then would this breathing clarionet

Type what the poet fain would be;

For none o’ the singers ever yet

Has wholly lived his minstrelsy,

Or clearly sung his true, true thought,

Or utterly bodied forth his life,

Or out of life and song has wrought

The perfect one of man and wife;

Or lived and sung, that Life and Song

Might each express the other’s all,

Careless if life or art were long

Since both were one, to stand or fall:

So that the wonder struck the crowd,

Who shouted it about the land:—

His song was only living aloud,

His work, a singing with his hand!