At a Symphony

By Louise Imogen Guiney 1861–1920
Oh, I would have these tongues oracular
Dip into silence, tease no more, let be!
They madden, like some choral of the free
Gusty and sweet against a prison-bar.
To earth the boast that her gold empires are,
The menace of delicious death to me,
Great Undesign, strong as by God’s decree,
Piercing the heart with beauty from afar!
Music too winning to the sense forlorn!
Of what angelic lineage was she born,
Bred in what rapture?—These her sires and friends:
Censure, Denial, Gloom, and Hunger’s throe.
Praised be the Spirit that thro’ thee, Schubert! so
Wrests evil unto wholly heavenly ends.

Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (The Library of America, 1993)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Louise Imogen Guiney 1861–1920

Subjects Music, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Louise Imogen Guiney

Biography

Louise Imogen Guiney is known for her lyrical, Old English-style poems that often recall the literary conventions of seventeenth-century English poetry. Informed by her religious faith, Guiney's works reflect her concern with the Catholic tradition in literature and often emphasize moral rectitude and heroic gallantry. Today Guiney is praised for her scholarship in both her poetry and in her numerous literary and historical . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Music, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.