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The Spirit of Beauty (A Prophecy)

By Charles Harpur

The Spirit of Beauty is the soul of all
That’s great and good and lovely. ‘Tis the smile
Of a foregone Perfection, dreaming back
Through all things and all forms that deepest dye
Its morning glory, till its glow is thence
Reflected in the clear, wide, sea-like mind
Of absolute Genius: even that first smile
(Itself creative) which Creation felt
Flash into light at its great heart, and o’er
Its universal face, when God beheld
The finished fabric and pronounced it good.
Hence wheresoever Genius dwelleth, there
Dwells Beauty also. Hence its voice is heard
In every tongue, and its ideal seen
In every region; harsh at first and crude,
But gaining ever from its primal cause
Original Perfection—till, at length,
Each loss of Nature in consummate Art
Be found or findable. So sings the Muse
In her prophetic mood, and so believe
Her children: for, in whatsoever form,
The Beautiful is loved, its lovers all
Are Poets, and the Prophets of their race.

And in this Southern Land there yet shall be
A race begotten in the Spirit of Beauty,
Such as the olden Greeks were, limbed and shaped
By that deep ideality which works
Into the stuff of nature, and becomes
Progressively its mould; and in and through
This physical perfection manifest,
Shall burn a soul of power surpassing that
Which was in Greece only the effluence
Of an artistic, not an actual life.
But here it shall be Actual—making all
Man’s instincts with his motions modulate,
Till thus perfectionised, his native growth
Embody forth the Living Beautiful.

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