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The Master of the Dance

 A chant to which it is intended a group of children shall dance and improvise pantomime led by their dancing-teacher.
I A master deep-eyed Ere his manhood was ripe, He sang like a thrush, He could play any pipe.
So dull in the school That he scarcely could spell, He read but a bit, And he figured not well.
A bare-footed fool, Shod only with grace; Long hair streaming down Round a wind-hardened face; He smiled like a girl, Or like clear winter skies, A virginal light Making stars of his eyes.
In swiftness and poise, A proud child of the deer, A white fawn he was, Yet a fwn without fear.
No youth thought him vain, Or made mock of his hair, Or laughed when his ways Were most curiously fair.
A mastiff at fight, He could strike to the earth The envious one Who would challenge his worth.
However we bowed To the schoolmaster mild, Our spirits went out To the fawn-looted child.
His beckoning led Our troop to the brush.
We found nothing there But a wind and a hush.
He sat by a stone And he looked on the ground, As if in the weeds There was something profound.
His pipe seemed to neigh, Then to bleat like a sheep, Then sound like a stream Or a waterfall deep.
It whispered strange tales, Human words it spoke not.
Told fair things to come, And our marvellous lot If now with fawn-steps Unshod we advanced To the midst of the grove And in reverence danced.
We obeyed as he piped Soft grass to young feet, Was a medicine mighty, A remedy meet.
Our thin blood awoke, It grew dizzy and wild, Though scarcely a word Moved the lips of a child.
Our dance gave allegiance, It set us apart, We tripped a strange measure, Uplifted of heart.
II We thought to be proud Of our fawn everywhere.
We could hardly see how Simple books were a care.
No rule of the school This strange student could tame.
He was banished one day, While we quivered with shame.
He piped back our love On a moon-silvered night, Enticed us once more To the place of delight.
A greeting he sang And it made our blood beat, It tramped upon custom And mocked at defeat.
He builded a fire And we tripped in a ring, The embers our books And the fawn our good king.
And now we approached All the mysteries rare That shadowed his eyelids And blew through his hair.
That spell now was peace The deep strength of the trees, The children of nature We clambered her knees.
Our breath and our moods Were in tune with her own, Tremendous her presence, Eternal her throne.
The ostracized child Our white foreheads kissed, Our bodies and souls Became lighter than mist.
Sweet dresses like snow Our small lady-loves wore, Like moonlight the thoughts That our bosoms upbore.
Like a lily the touch Of each cold little hand.
The loves of the stars We could now understand.
O quivering air! O the crystalline night! O pauses of awe And the faces swan-white! O ferns in the dusk! O forest-shrined hour! O earth that sent upward The thrill and the power, To lift us like leaves, A delirious whirl, The masterful boy And the delicate girl! What child that strange night-time Can ever forget? His fealty due And his infinite debt To the folly divine, To the exquisite rule Of the perilous master, The fawn-looted fool? III Now soldiers we seem, And night brings a new thing, A terrible ire, As of thunder awing.
A warrior power, That old chivalry stirred, When knights took up arms, As the maidens gave word.
WHEN THE TOWN LIKE A GREAT BUDDING ROSE SHALL UNFOLD! Near, nearer that war, And that ecstasy comes, We hear the trees beating Invisible drums.
The fields of the night Are starlit above, Our girls are white torches Of conquest and love.
No nerve without will, And no breast without breath, We whirl with the planets That never know death!

Poem by Vachel Lindsay
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