Skip to main content
By Henrietta Cordelia Ray

The subtlest strain a great musician weaves,

Cannot attain in rhythmic harmony

To music in his soul. May it not be

Celestial lyres send hints to him? He grieves

That half the sweetness of the song, he leaves

Unheard in the transition. Thus do we

Yearn to translate the wondrous majesty

Of some rare mood, when the rapt soul receives

A vision exquisite. Yet who can match

The sunset’s iridescent hues? Who sing

The skylark’s ecstasy so seraph-fine?

We struggle vainly, still we fain would catch

Such rifts amid life’s shadows, for they bring

Glimpses ineffable of things divine.


Source: Collected Black Women's Poetry, Volume 3 (Oxford University Press, 1988)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Religion

Poet Bio

Henrietta Cordelia Ray
Henrietta Cordelia Ray was born in New York City. She graduated from the University of the City of New York in 1891 with a master's in pedagogy and became a teacher, but stopped in order to write. Her ode "Lincoln" was read at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC, in April 1876.   See More By This Poet

More Poems about Arts & Sciences

Browse poems about Arts & Sciences

More Poems about Religion

Browse poems about Religion Get a random poem