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(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

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The Musicians

The strings of my heart were strung by Pleasure,
And I laughed when the music fell on my ear,
For he and Mirth played a joyful measure,
And they played so loud that I could not hear
The wailing and mourning of souls a-weary -
The strains of sorrow that floated around,
For my heart's notes rang out loud and cheery,
And I heard no other sound.

Mirth and Pleasure, the music brothers,
Played louder and louder in joyful glee;
But sometimes a discord was heard by others -
Though only the rhythm was heard by me.
Louder and louder, faster and faster
The hands of the brothers played strain on strain,
When all of a sudden a Mighty Master
Swept them aside; and Pain,

Pain, the musician, the soul-refiner,
Restrung the strings of my quivering heart,
And the air that he played was a plaintive minor,
So sad that the tear-drops were forced to start;
Each note was an echo of awful anguish,
As shrill as solemn, as sharp as slow,
And my soul for a reason seemed to languish
And faint with its weight of woe.

With skilful hands that were never weary,
This Master of Music played strain on strain,
And between the bars of the miserere,
He drew up the strings of my heart again,
And I was filled with a vague, strange wonder,
To see that they did not snap in two.
'They are drawn so tight, they will break assunder, '
I thought, but instead, they grew,

In the hands of the Master, firmer and stronger;
And I could hear on the stilly air -
Now my ears were deafened by Mirth no longer -
The sound of sorrow, and grief, and despair;
And my soul grew kinder and tender to others,
My nature grew sweeter, my mind grew broad,
And I held all men to be my brothers,
Linked by the chastening rod.

My soul was lifted to God and heaven,
And when on my heart-strings fell again
The hands of Mirth, and Pleasure, even,
There was never a discord to mar the strain.
For Pain, the musician, and soul-refiner,
Attuned the strings with a master hand,
And whether the music be major or minor,
It is always sweet and grand.

Submitted: Monday, May 19, 2003


Read poems about / on: music, sorrow, pain, despair, grief, sometimes, sad, nature, heart, heaven, god, brother

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