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To a Lady with a Guitar

by
ARIEL to Miranda:¡ªTake 
This slave of music for the sake 
Of him who is the slave of thee; 
And teach it all the harmony 
In which thou canst and only thou 5 
Make the delighted spirit glow  
Till joy denies itself again 
And too intense is turn'd to pain.
For by permission and command Of thine own Prince Ferdinand 10 Poor Ariel sends this silent token Of more than ever can be spoken; Your guardian spirit Ariel who From life to life must still pursue Your happiness for thus alone 15 Can Ariel ever find his own.
From Prospero's enchanted cell As the mighty verses tell To the throne of Naples he Lit you o'er the trackless sea 20 Flitting on your prow before Like a living meteor.
When you die the silent Moon In her interlunar swoon Is not sadder in her cell 25 Than deserted Ariel:¡ª When you live again on earth Like an unseen Star of birth Ariel guides you o'er the sea Of life from your nativity:¡ª 30 Many changes have been run Since Ferdinand and you begun Your course of love and Ariel still Has track'd your steps and served your will.
Now in humbler happier lot 35 This is all remember'd not; And now alas the poor Sprite is Imprison'd for some fault of his In a body like a grave¡ª From you he only dares to crave 40 For his service and his sorrow A smile to-day a song to-morrow.
The artist who this viol wrought To echo all harmonious thought Fell'd a tree while on the steep 45 The woods were in their winter sleep Rock'd in that repose divine On the wind-swept Apennine; And dreaming some of autumn past And some of spring approaching fast 50 And some of April buds and showers And some of songs in July bowers And all of love; and so this tree ¡ª Oh that such our death may be!¡ª Died in sleep and felt no pain 55 To live in happier form again: From which beneath heaven's fairest star The artist wrought this loved guitar; And taught it justly to reply To all who question skilfully 60 In language gentle as thine own; Whispering in enamour'd tone Sweet oracles of woods and dells And summer winds in sylvan cells.
For it had learnt all harmonies 65 Of the plains and of the skies Of the forests and the mountains And the many-voic¨¨d fountains; The clearest echoes of the hills The softest notes of falling rills 70 The melodies of birds and bees The murmuring of summer seas And pattering rain and breathing dew And airs of evening; and it knew That seldom-heard mysterious sound 75 Which driven on its diurnal round As it floats through boundless day Our world enkindles on its way:¡ª All this it knows but will not tell To those who cannot question well 80 The spirit that inhabits it: It talks according to the wit Of its companions; and no more Is heard than has been felt before By those who tempt it to betray 85 These secrets of an elder day.
But sweetly as its answers will Flatter hands of perfect skill It keeps its highest holiest tone For one beloved Friend alone.
90

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