Sonnet XV

written by

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[To whom I owe the popularity of some of my favourite ballads.]

WHEN thy light fingers touch th' obedient chords,
Which, with a gentle murmur, low respond,
Waiting the measure of the coming words
From that sweet voice, so plaintive, sad, and fond,--
Say does some wingéd Ariel, hovering near,
Teach thee his island music note for note,
That thou may'st copy with an echo clear
Th' enchanted symphonies that round thee float?
Or do all Melodies, whilst thou art playing,
(Each with the offering of some chorded sound,)
On the low slanting sunbeam earthward straying,
Like meek subservient spirits wander round;
In Harmony's dim language asking thee
Which of them, for the hour, shall thy attendant be?

© Caroline Norton