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For Mario Lanza
When little glow remains to answer night;
I pause to hear a voice immune to pain.
A single note, a voice composed of light,
And I am overcome. No dim despair
Can stay the steady purity of tone,
The triumph smoldering in every flare
Of notes that reach where only stars had known
Such aching height. What place for night,
When such emblazoned song, aloft, confirms
The decency of joy, of clean delight?
You lived for this, and knew no other terms.
No critic's sneering hate for life and skill
Can penetrate the rapture you conveyed
In raging passion shaped by human will,
A sacrament in breathless serenade.
You sang each word as if with final breath;
Your song remains, a voice transcending death.
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