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The Piper

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George Borrow in his Lavengro
Tells us of a Welshman, who
By some excess of mother-wit
Framed a harp and played on it,
Built a ship and sailed to sea,
And steered it home to melody
Of his own making. I, indeed,
Might write for Everyman to read
A thaumalogue of wonderment
More wonderful, but rest content
With celebrating one I knew
Who built his pipes, and played them, too:
No more.
Ah, played! Therein is all:
The hounded thing, the hunter's call;
The shudder, when the quarry's breath
Is drowned in blood and stilled in death;
The marriage dance, the pulsing vein,

The kiss that must be given again;
The hope that Ireland, like a rose,
Sees shining thro' her tale of woes;
The battle lost, the long lament
For blood and spirit vainly spent;
And so on, thro' the varying scale
Of passion that the western Gael
Knows, and by miracle of art
Draws to the chanter from the heart
Like water from a hidden spring,
To leap or murmur, weep or sing.

I see him now, a little man
In proper black, whey-bearded, wan,
With eyes that scan the eastern hills
Thro' thick, gold-rimmèd spectacles.
His hand is on the chanter. Lo,
The hidden spring begins to flow
In waves of magic. (He is dead
These seven years, but bend your head
And listen.) Rising from the clay
The Master plays The Ring of Day.
It mounts and falls and floats away
Over the sky-line . . . then is gone
Into the silence of the dawn!

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the November 1912 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Piper

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