1 Hark! some wild trumpeter -- some strange musician, Hovering unseen in air, vibrates capricious tunes to-night. I hear thee, trumpeter -- listening, alert, I catch thy notes, Now pouring, whirling like a tempest round me, Now low, subdued -- now in the distance lost. [2 Come nearer, bodiless one -- haply, in thee resounds Some dead composer -- haply thy pensive life Was fill'd with aspirations high -- unform'd ideals, Waves, oceans musical, chaotically surging, That now, ecstatic ghost, close to me bending, thy cornet echoing, pealing, Gives out to no one's ears but mine -- but freely gives to mine, That I may thee translate.]1 3 Blow, trumpeter, free and clear -- I follow thee, While at thy liquid prelude, glad, serene, The fretting world, the streets, the noisy hours of day, withdraw; A holy calm descends, like dew, upon me, I walk, in cool refreshing night, the walks of Paradise, I scent the grass, the moist air, and the roses; Thy song expands my numb'd, imbonded spirit -- thou freest, launchest me, Floating and basking upon Heaven's lake. [4 Blow again, trumpeter! and for my sensuous eyes, Bring the old pageants -- show the feudal world. What charm thy music works! -- thou makest pass before me, Ladies and cavaliers long dead -- barons are in their castle halls -- the troubadours are singing; Arm'd knights go forth to redress wrongs -- some in quest of the Holy Grail: I see the tournament -- I see the contestants, encased in heavy armor, seated on stately, champing horses; I hear the shouts -- the sounds of blows and smiting steel: I see the Crusaders' tumultuous armies -- Hark! how the cymbals clang! Lo! where the monks walk in advance, bearing the cross on high!]1 5 Blow again, trumpeter! and for thy theme, Take now the enclosing theme of all -- the solvent and the setting; Love, that is pulse of all -- the sustenace and the pang; The heart of man and woman all for love; No other theme but love -- knitting, enclosing, all-diffusing love. O, how the immortal phantoms crowd around me! I see the vast alembic ever working -- I see and know the flames that heat the world; The glow, the blush, the beating hearts of lovers, So blissful happy some -- and some so silent, dark, and nigh to death: Love, that is all the earth to lovers -- Love, that mocks time and space; Love, that is day and night -- Love, that is sun and moon and stars; Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with perfume; No other words, but words of love -- no other thought but Love. 6 Blow again, trumpeter -- conjure war's Wild alarums. Swift to thy spell, a shuddering hum like distant thunder rolls; Lo! where the arm'd men hasten -- Lo! mid the clouds of dust, the glint of bayonets; I see the grime-faced cannoniers -- I mark the rosy flash amid the smoke -- I hear the cracking of the guns: [ -- Nor war alone -- thy fearful music-song, wild player, brings every sight of fear, The deeds of ruthless brigands -- rapine, murder -- I hear the cries for help! I see ships foundering at sea -- I behold on deck, and below deck, the terrible tableaux.]1 7 O trumpeter! methinks I am myself the instrument thou playest! Thou melt'st my heart, my brain -- thou movest, drawest, changest them, at will: And now thy sullen notes send darkness through me; Thou takest away all cheering light -- all hope: [I see the enslaved, the overthrown, the hurt, the opprest of the whole earth; I feel the measureless shame and humiliation of my race -- it becomes all mine; Mine too the revenges of humanity -- the wrongs of ages -- baffled feuds and hatreds;]1 Utter defeat upon me weighs -- all lost! the foe victorious! (Yet 'mid the ruins Pride colossal stands, unshaken to the last; Endurance, resolution, to the last.) 8 Now, trumpeter, for thy close, Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet; Sing to my soul -- renew its languishing faith and hope; Rouse up my slow belief -- give me some vision of the future; Give me, for once, its prophecy and joy. O glad, exulting, culminating song! A vigor more than earth's is in thy notes! Marches of victory -- man disenthrall'd -- the conqueror at last! Hymns to the universal God, from universal Man -- all joy! A reborn race appears -- a perfect World, all joy! Women and Men, in wisdom, innocence and health -- all joy! Riotous, laughing bacchanals, fill'd with joy! War, sorrow, suffering gone -- The rank earth purged -- nothing but joy left! The ocean fill'd with joy -- the atmosphere all joy! Joy! Joy! in freedom, worship, love! Joy in the ecstacy of life! Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe! Joy! Joy! all over Joy!
1 omitted by Holst.
- by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892), "The Mystic Trumpeter", appears in Leaves of Grass [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by Gustav Holst (1874 - 1934), "The Mystic Trumpeter", subtitle: "Scena for Soprano and Orchestra", op. 18, H 71 (1904), first performed 1905 [ soprano and orchestra ] [sung text checked 1 time]
- by Robert Starer (1924 - 2001), "The Mystic Trumpeter" [ baritone and instrumental ensemble ] [sung text not yet checked]
Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel
This text was added to the website: 2011-01-26
Line count: 87
Word count: 776