(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

The Useless Ones

Poets should not reason:
Let them sing!
Argument is treason —
Bells should ring.

Statements none, nor questions;
Gnomic words.
Spirit-cries, suggestions,
Like the birds.

He may use deduction
Who must preach;
He may praise instruction
Who must teach;

But the poet duly
Fills his part
When the song bursts truly
From his heart.

For no purpose springing;
For no pelf:
He must do the singing
For itself.

Not in lines austerely
Let him build;
Not the surface merely
Let him gild.

Fearless, uninvited,
Like a spring.
Opal-words, inlighted,
Let him sing.

As the leaf grows sunward
Song must grow;
As the stream flows onward
Song must flow.

Useless? Ay, — for measure;
Roses die,
But their breath gives pleasure —
God knows why!

by John Boyle O'Reilly

Other poems of O'REILLY (150)

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