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Alfred Noyes

The Reward of Song

Why do we make our music?

Oh, blind dark strings reply:

Because we dwell in a strange land

And remember a lost sky.

We ask no leaf of the laurel,

We know what fame is worth;

But our songs break out of our winter

As the flowers break out on the earth.


And we dream of the unknown comrade,

In the days when we lie dead,

Who shall open our book in the sunlight,

And read, as ourselves have read,

On a lonely hill, by a firwood,

With whispering seas below,

And murmur a song we made him

Ages and ages ago.


If making his May-time sweeter

With dews of our own dead May,

One pulse of our own dead heart-strings

Awake in his heart that day,

We would pray for no richer guerdon,

No praise from the careless throng;

For song is the cry of a lover

In quest of an answering song.


As a child might run to his elders

With news of an opening flower

We should walk with our young companion

And talk to his heart for an hour,

As once by my own green firwood,

And once by a Western sea,

Thank God, my own good comrades

Have walked and talked with me.


Too mighty to make men sorrow,

Too weak to heal their pain

(Though they that remember the hawthorn

May find their heaven again),

We are moved by a deeper hunger;

We are bound by a stronger cord;

For love is the heart of our music,

And love is its one reward.