William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

The Poet’s Opportunity - Poem by William Bell Scott

Smoothed by this untiring tide,
The rocks that crop up on this strand
Make pleasant seats, we there abide,
And spread our white cloth on the sand.
'Twas such a gentle sea, none there
Could ever after quite forget,
Sea-mews sloped near us through warm air,
The small white cloudlets made a fret,
High, higher still, like Jacob's stair.
What do they now in ancient Rome,—
Where we were looked for certainly,
We chose this year to stay at home,
And lay the stale schoolmaster bye.
‘Art is something more than nature,’
Something from the artist's life,
Life orders and selects, makes sure,
Frees the melody from strife.


But that life lapses 'neath the sway
Of motives long since past and gone;
Beautiful once, they had their day,
We look for bread and find a stone.
Let the pulse beat: a verse or two
May come from this kind solitude,
By sea, in bower, 'neath cloud, or blue,
To fit our manhood's present mood.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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