This, Cicero, Is Thy Heart…

Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Souls of Books III:

And now so still! This, Cicero, is thy heart;
    I hear it beating through each purple line.
    This is thyself, Anacreon--yet, thou art
    Wreath'd, as in Athens, with the Cnidian vine.
    I ope thy pages, Milton, and, behold,
    Thy spirit meets me in the haunted ground!--
    Sublime and eloquent, as while, of old,
    "It flamed and sparkled in its crystal bound;"
    These are yourselves--your life of life! The Wise,
    (Minstrel or Sage) out of their books are clay;
    But in their books, as from their graves, they rise,
    Angels that, side by side, upon our way,
    Walk with and warn us!
                           Hark! the world so loud,
    And they, the movers of the world, so still!

    What gives this beauty to the grave? the shroud
    Scarce wraps the Poet, than at once there cease
    Envy and Hate! "Nine cities claim him dead,
    Through which the living Homer begg'd his bread!"
    And what the charm that can such health distil
    From wither'd leaves--oft poisons in their bloom?
    We call some books immoral! Do they live?
    If so, believe me, TIME hath made them pure.
    In Books, the veriest wicked rest in peace--
    God wills that nothing evil shall endure;
    The grosser parts fly off and leave the whole,
    As the dust leaves the disembodied soul!
    Come from thy niche, Lucretius! Thou didst give
    Man the black creed of Nothing in the tomb!
    Well, when we read thee, does the dogma taint?
    No; with a listless eye we pass it o'er,
    And linger only on the hues that paint
    The Poet's spirit lovelier than his lore.
    None learn from thee to cavil with their God;
    None commune with thy genius to depart
    Without a loftier instinct of the heart.
    Thou mak'st no Atheist--thou but mak'st the mind
    Richer in gifts which Atheists best confute--
    FANCY AND THOUGHT! 'Tis these that from the sod
    Lift us! The life which soars above the brute
    Ever and mightiest, breathes from a great Poet's lute!
Edward Bulwer-Lytton - Wikipedia

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