For Mercy, Courage, Kindness, Mirth,
There is no measure upon earth.
Nay, they wither, root and stem,
If an end be set to them.
Overbrim and overflow,
If you own heart you would know;
For the spirit born to bless
Lives but in its own excess
Song. Love, Like Cordial Wine
Love, like cordial wine,
Pouring his soul in mine,
Bids me to sing;
Youth's bright glory snatch,
And Time's paces match
With fearless wing.
Now, while breath is bliss,
And dawn wakes me with a kiss,
Ere this rapture flee,
Ere my heart thou claim,
Sorrow, I will aim
A shaft at thee.
When All The World Is Hidden
When all the world is hidden
And there is only you,
When bosom beats to bosom
As if the heart broke through,
O never speech nor language
Song nor music told
The wonder more than all the world
That in my arms I hold.
Day is a dream abolished,
Sweet madness only true.
The night is burning beauty
Where there is only you.
All is wild with change,
Large the yellow leaves
Hang, so frail and few.
Now they go, they too
Flutter, lifted, lying,
All is wild with change.
Nothing shrinks or grieves.
There's no time for sighing.
Night comes fast on noon,
Dawn treads after soon;
Days are springing, dying,
We with them are flying.
All is wild with change.
A Winter Song
Now December darkens
Over Autumn dead.
The frozen earth now hearkens
For the last leaf to be shed.
Above gray grass the branches bare
Melt, faint ghosts, in misty air,
O the nearer, deeper
In my heart, remembering
My Love's kiss and how her eyes
Blessed me like enchanted skies,
Is the joy that with the spring
Shall waken Earth the sleeper.
A Spring Song
Not yet a bough to bud may dare
On the naked tree.
Yet happy leaves in the bough prepare,
And could I see
Far as a soaring bird, I know
Where young in sheen
The willow, swaying soft and slow,
Laughs gold and green.
O in the winter's waste to build
A tower of song!
My Love should enter when she willed
That tower strong
And climb, and see beyond the bare
Dark branches' dearth
Spring, shaking out her golden hair,
Smile up the earth.
Through Ebblesborne and Broad--Chalke
The narrow river runs,
Dimples with dark November rains,
Flashes in April suns.
But give me days of rosy June
And on warm grass to lie
And watch, bright over long green weed,
Quick water wimple by.
Blue swallows, arrowing up and down,
Cool trout that glide and dart,
Lend me their happy bodies
For the fancies of my heart.
But you, clear stream, that murmur
One music all day long,
I wish my idle fancy
Sang half so sweet a song.
The Full Heart
If I could sing the song of her
Who makes my heart to sing;
If I could catch the words to match
Its secret blossoming;
My song should be a heaven of sound
Thrilled through a single note,--
The world of light that's infinite
In one flower's honey--throat!
A fountain diamonded in air,
Earth--blessing dews at night,
A dancing child, flames lovely--wild,
Should not so much delight.
But where I most have theme to boast
I stammer in my speech;
The full heart shames my faltering art
With music past its reach.
Song. What Boat Is This That Bears
What boat is this that bears
My soul on an ocean, fanned
By new arriving airs
From an undiscovered land?
Is this Love's magic boat, and these
The waves of his unsounded seas?
Pangs of the soul's desire
My voyage swiftly urge;
Day--long I flee, afire
To overtake the verge;
But still into infinity
Escape before me sky and sea.
Anchor, my heart; abide,
And search the seas no more.
Out of this water wide
Never shall dawn a shore,
Till wave and sun have ceased to gleam,
And wondrous truth dies out in dream.
Home from the wounds of Earth and wasting Time
The marvel of her beauty and morning prime
She has taken, glorious with the dew of youth
Still on her thoughts, those thoughts that from her eyes
Gleamed still or splendid, unafraid of truth;
All her white passion, all the secrecies
Of wild, sweet fire that her heart guarded, all
Her heart's young rose, ere yet one leaf could fade or fall!
She that was made like a song nobly wrought
In fine, fair mould of movement, speech and thought,
With glory of hair about the buoyant head;--
In breaking voices we her beauty tell:
But she is radiant, she is perfected,
Where our long hopes far from our sorrows dwell,
A song unended, but a song so sweet,
No tongue of mortal dares its melody complete.
Blue noon shines o'er the sea;
Waves break starry on the sand;
Lights and sounds and scents come free
On the radiant air of the land.
I am filled with the melody of waves
That take my heart onward in tune;
My heart follows yearning after, and craves
No other delight nor boon.
They enfold the earth in desire
With a closer and closer kiss;
From life into life they expire,
In dying their birth and their bliss.
I am melted in them, I am filled
With the passion in peace they have found.
Even so would my spirit in peace be thrilled,
So be lost in a love without bound.
Peace is no tame dove
To be caught and caged in the breast,
No, nor untamable Love
In a moment lightly possest.
Peace is wide and wild,
And Love without master as the sea;
He is soft in his ways as a little child,
Yet is mightier far than we.
A far look in absorbed eyes, unaware
Of what some gazer thrills to gather there;
A happy voice, singing to itself apart,
That pulses new blood through a listener's heart;
Old fortitude; and, 'mid an hour of dread,
The scorn of all odds in a proud young head;-
These are themselves, and being but what they are,
Of others' praise or pity have no care,
Yet still are magnets to another's need.
Invisibly as wind, blowing stray seed,
Life breathes on life, though ignorant what it brings,
And spirit touches spirit on the strings
Where music is: courage from courage glows
In secret; shy powers to themselves unclose;
And the most solitary hope, that gray
Patience has sister'd, ripens far away
In young bosoms. Oh, we have failed and failed,
And never knew if we or the world ailed,
Clouded and thwarted; yet perhaps the best
Of all we do and dream of lives unguessed.
Spring Has Leapt Into Summer
Spring has leapt into Summer.
A glory has gone from the green.
The flush of the poplar has sobered out,
The flame in the leaf of the lime is dulled:
But I am thinking of the young men
Whose faces are no more seen.
Where is the pure blossom
That fell and refused to grow old?
The clustered radiance, perfumed whiteness,
Silent singing of joy in the blue?
--I am thinking of the young men
Whose splendour is under the mould.
Youth, the wonder of the world,
Opened--eyed at an opened door,
When the world is as honey in the flower, and as wine
To the heart, and as music newly begun!
O the young men, the myriads of the young men,
Whose beauty returns no more!
Spring will come, when the Earth remembers,
In sun--bursts after the rain,
And the leaf be fresh and lovely on the bough,
And the myriad shining blossom be born:
But I shall be thinking of the young men
Whose eyes will not shine on us again.
A far look in absorbed eyes, unaware
Of what some gazer thrills to gather there;
Happy voice, singing to itself apart,
That pulses new blood through a listener's heart;
Bowed fortitude; and in an hour of dread
The scorn of all odds in a proud young head:
These are themselves, and being but what they are,
Of others' praise or pity have no care;
Yet still are magnets to an unknown need.
Invisible as the wind, sowing stray seed,
Life breathes on life, ignorant what it brings,
And spirit touches spirit on the strings
Where music is; courage from courage glows;
Shy powers in secret to themselves unclose;
And unbefriended hope in the cold dark
Nursing its patient solitary spark
Among the ashes of a world to--day
Will be to--morrow kindled far away
In young bosoms. O we have failed and failed
And never known if we or the world ailed,
Clouded and thwarted; yet perhaps the best
Of all we have done and dreamed of lives unguessed.
A Mother’s Song
Over fast--closed baby eyes
In the garden's golden air
Blossom--white the butterflies
Hover, hurry, part and pair,
Sudden shinings, flown nowhere!
Blue, above, the unbounded skies!
Little one, O downy head,
O fingers clasping, shaped and small,
Laid in soft nest of your bed,
How the trees are Titan--tall
Over you that slumber, all
Ignorant of hope and dread!
O so small, and all around
Life so vast works wonders new.
Yet to you is set no bound
What you shall desire and do,
Find and fashion and hold true;
Deeps you hold no thought can sound:
You are sought by powers unknown;
On your trembling heart--strings play
Airs unheard, O little one!
Whisperings of far away,
Music made of day and day--
Lands of promise, all your own!
Wide as heaven the secrecies
You enfold: ev'n now, ev'n here,
You presage infinities,
While above in hope, in fear,
My white wishes, far and near,
Hover like the butterflies.
Flower And Voice
Tremulous out of that long darkness, how
Wast thou, O blossom, made
Upon the wintry bough?
What drew thee to appear,
Like a thought in the mind,
And perfect?--Yet the wind
Blew on thee how sharp! how drear
The drops fell from the sudden--clouded spring!
Those delicate rare petals, all storm--thrilled,
Shone into recollection, when my ear
From a half--opened door was filled
With a voice singing; floating up to sing
A song, long ago from a heart's darkness born
And upon young lips born again;
A voice, flowering clear
In beauty stolen from the world of pain.
Ah, not to--night of beauty I thought,
Yet beautiful beyond all hope's desire,
O wonderful, more wonderful to me
Than any miracle of beauty wrought
Was my Love's voice, saying beside the fire,
Where she leaned by my knee,
Dear, broken words; words of no art,
And yet in them was all my want, I found;
Life has no more to give than that sweet sound
Breaking and melting deep in my heart's heart.
The Children Dancing
Away, sad thoughts, and teasing
Let other blood go freezing,
We will be wise and gay.
For here is all heart-easing,
An ecstasy at play.
The children dancing, dancing,
Light upon happy feet,
Both eye and heart entrancing
Mingle, escape, and meet;
Come joyous-eyed and advancing
Or floatingly retreat.
Now slow, now swifter treading
Their paces timed and true,
An instant poised, then threading
A maze of printless clue,
Their motions smoothly wedding
To melody anew,
They sway in chime, and scatter
In looping circles; they
Are Music's airy matter,
And their feet move, the way
The raindrops shine and patter
On tossing flowers in May.
As if those flowers were singing
For joy of the clean air,
As if you saw them springing
To dance the breeze, so fair
The lissom bodies swinging,
So light the flung-back hair.
And through the mind enchanted
A happy river goes
By its own young carol haunted
And bringing where it flows
What all in the world has wanted
And who in this world knows?
In the time of wild roses
As up Thames we travelled
Where 'mid water--weeds ravelled
The lily uncloses,
To his old shores the river
A new song was singing,
And young shoots were springing
On old roots for ever.
Dog--daisies were dancing,
And flags flamed in cluster,
On the dark stream a lustre
Now blurred and now glancing.
A tall reed down--weighing,
The sedge--warbler fluttered;
One sweet note he uttered,
Then left it soft--swaying.
By the bank's sandy hollow
My dipt oars went beating,
And past our bows fleeting
Blue--backed shone the swallow.
High woods, heron--haunted,
Rose, changed, as we rounded
Old hills greenly mounded,
To meadows enchanted;
A dream ever moulded
Afresh for our wonder,
Still opening asunder
For the stream many--folded;
Till sunset was rimming
The West with pale flushes;
Behind the black rushes
The last light was dimming;
And the lonely stream, hiding
Shy birds, grew more lonely,
And with us was only
The noise of our gliding.
In cloud of gray weather
The evening o'erdarkened.
In the stillness we hearkened;
Our hearts sang together.
In Misty Blue
In misty blue the lark is heard
Above the silent homes of men;
The bright--eyed thrush, the little wren,
The yellow--billed sweet--voiced blackbird
Mid sallow blossoms blond as curd
Or silver oak boughs, carolling
With happy throat from tree to tree,
Sing into light this morn of spring
That sang my dear love home to me.
Be starry, buds of clustered white,
Around the dark waves of her hair!
The young fresh glory you prepare
Is like my ever--fresh delight
When she comes shining on my sight
With meeting eyes, with such a cheek
As colours fair like flushing tips
Of shoots, and music ere she speak
Lies in the wonder of her lips.
Airs of the morning, breathe about
Keen faint scents of the wild wood--side
From thickets where primroses hide
Mid the brown leaves of winter's rout.
Chestnut and willow, beacon out
For joy of her, from far and nigh,
Your English green on English hills:
Above her head, song--quivering sky,
And at her feet, the daffodils.
Because she breathed, the world was more,
And breath a finer soul to use,
And life held lovelier hopes to choose:
But O to--day my heart brims o'er,
Earth glows as from a kindled core,
Like shadows of diviner things
Are hill and cloud and flower and tree--
A splendour that is hers and spring's,--
The day my love came home to me.
Out of these throes that search and sear
What is it so deep arises in us
Above the shaken thoughts of fear,--
Whatever thread the Fates may spin us,--
Above the horror that would drown
And tempest that would strike us down?
It is to stand in cleansing light,
The cloud of dullard habit lifted,
To use a certainty of sight
And breathe an air by peril sifted,
The things that once we deemed of price
Consumed in smoke of sacrifice.
It is to feel the world we knew
Changed to a wonder past our knowing;
The grass, the trees, the skiey blue,
The very stones are inly glowing
With something infinite behind
These shadows, ardently divined.
We went our ways; each bosom bore
Its spark of separate desire;
But each now kindles to the core
With faith from this transfusing fire,
Whereto our inmost longings run
To be made infinitely one
With that which nothing can destroy,
Which lives when all is crushed and taken,
The home of dearer than our joy,
By all save by the soul forsaken,--
The soul that strips her clean of care
Because she breathes her native air,
Yet not in scorn of lovely earth
And human sweetness born of living,
For these are grown of dearer worth,
A gift more precious in the giving,
Since through this raiment's hues and lines
The glory of the spirit shines.
Faces of radiant youth, that go
Like rivers singing to the sea!
You count no careful cost; you know;
Of that far secret you are free;
And life in you its splendour spending
Sings the stars' song that has no ending.
The Forest Pine
A hundred autumns fallen in fire
To dust and mould
Have faded from their perished gold
To throne thee higher,
O Titan pine, that soarest straight
From ground to sky without a mate,
Like one desire.
Dark is the hollow as a cup
Of shadow immense,
Of daylight--daunting dimness, whence
Thou springest up
Far into light, to take thy fill
Of splendour, solitary in still
Leaves of the low brake hide a stir
Of small soft things:
Life, busy in flit of secret wings
And slinking fur,
Pricks buried seeds that upward thrust,
And green through germinating dust
But thou, that seemest earth to scorn
And air to claim,
With all thy plumy spire aflame
And crest upborne
In the blue air, so far, so high,
As if the silence of the sky
About thee came,
Thou hidest all the sappy stream
That in thee swells;
Motionless fibre nothing tells:
And thou dost seem
To tower in glorious ignorance
Of earth's small stir and chafe, a trance,
A soaring dream!
And in a trance thou holdest me
With bated will;
And I am still, as thou art still,
My spirit free,
My body charm--dissolved to naught
But the vibration of a thought,
If thought could be.
O hush! within the blood is felt
An airy fear,
A faltering; and the heart can hear
The silence melt
To something frailer than a sound
Borne from the wide horizon's bound
To the inward ear.
Slowly, ah! slowly, a hush begins,
A trembling, where
Those branches sleep on golden air,
And gradual wins
A voice, a music, a long surge,
Sweet as a song, sad as a dirge,
Sighed out like prayer!
The singer knows not what he sings.
A lonely sound
Comes trembling through him from profound
The songs, the sighs, the world exiled,
Seek him and in his heart--throbs wild
Still their wild wings.
A Hymn Of Love
O hush, sweet birds, that linger in lonely song!
Hold in your evening fragrance, wet May--bloom!
But drooping branches and leaves that greenly throng,
Darken and cover me over in tenderer gloom.
As a water--lily unclosing on some shy pool,
Filled with rain, upon tremulous water lying,
With joy afraid to speak, yet fain to be sighing
Its riches out, my heart is full, too full.
Votaries that have veiled their secret shrine
In veils of incense falteringly that rise,
And stealing in milky clouds of wavering line
Round soaring pillars hang like adoring sighs,
They watch the smoke ascending soft as thought,
Till wide in the fragrant dimness peace is shed,
And out of their perfect vision the world is fled,
Because the heart sees pure when the eye sees not.
I too will veil my joy that is too divine
For my heart to comprehend or tongue to speak.
The whole earth is my temple, and Love the shrine
That all the hearts of the world worship and seek.
But the incense cloud I burn to veil my bliss
Is woven of air and waters and living sun,
Colour and odour and music and light made one.
Come down, O night, and take from me all but this!
I dreamed of wonders strange in a strange air;
But this my joy, my dream, my wonder, is near
As grass to the earth, that clings so close and fair,
Nourished by all it nourishes. O most dear,
I dreamed of beauty pacing enchanted ground,
But you with beauty over my waiting soul,
As the blood steals over the cheek at a heart--throb, stole!
In the beating of my heart I have known you, I have found.
Incredulous world, be far, and tongues profane!
For now in my spirit there burns a steadfast faith.
No longer I fear you, earth's sad bondage vain,
Nor prison walls of Time, nor the gates of Death.
For the marvel that was most marvellous is most true;
To the music that moves the universe moves my heart,
And the song of the starry worlds I sing apart
In the night and shadow and stillness, Love, for you.
Soul of England, dost thou sleep,
Lulled or dulled, thy mighty youth forgotten?
Of the world's wine hast thou drunk too deep?
Hast thou sown more than thy hands can reap?
Turn again thine ear
To that song severe
In thine hour of storm and war begotten!
Here in towered London's throng,
In her streets, with Time's new murmur seething,
Milton pacing mused his haughty song;
Here he sleeps out feud, fret, and wrong.
Nay, that spirit august
Tramples death's low dust,
Still for us is kindled, burning, breathing.
He, on whose earth--darkened sight
Rose horizons of the empyrean
And the ordered spheres' unhasting flight;
He who saw, where round the heart of Light
Flamed in circle wide,
Quiring music of their solemn paean,
When through space a trouble ran
(Like a flush on serene skies arisen)
That from this dim spot of earth began--
Rumour of the world's new marvel, Man,
From whose heart--beat sped
Hope, hazard, and dread
Past earth's borders to hell's fiery prison:
He who saw the Anarch's hate
Tower, winged for woe; the serpent charming
Eve in her imperilled bower; the Gate
Barred, and those two forms that desolate
Mid the radiant spheres
Wept first human tears;
Earlier war in heaven and angels arming:
He who, like his Samson, bowed,
Toiling, hardly--tasked and night--enfolded,
Steered his proud course to one purpose vowed,
As an eagle beats through hailing cloud
Strong--winged and alone,
Seeking skies unknown:
He whose verse, majestically moulded,
Moves like armed and bannered host
Streaming irresistible, or abounding
River in a land's remoteness lost,
Poured from solitary peaks of frost,
And far histories brings
Of old realms and kings,
With high fates of fallen Man resounding:
This is England's voice that rang
Over Europe; this the soul unshaken
That from darkness a great splendour sang,
Beauty mightier for the cost and pang;
Of our blood and name
Risen, our spirits to claim,
To enlarge, to summon, to awaken.
The Cathedral Porch
Towering, towering up to the noon--blaze,
Up to the hot blue, up to blinding gold,
Pillar and pinnacle, arch and corbel, scrolled,
Flowered and tendrilled, soar, aspire and raise
The giant porch, with kings and prophets old
High in their niches, like one shout of praise,
From earth to heaven.--In shadow of the door
Cringeing, a beggar stands;
He holds out abject hands;
His lips for pity and alms mechanically implore.
Splendour of air and the bright splintered beam
Carve all afresh in strong reverberate glow
As if even now the passionate master--blow
Struck from the stone the shapes of beauty's dream.
Can a mere hand ever have fashioned so
Desire's adventure, god--like force, supreme
Sky--scaling joy?--The beggar's toneless drone
Comes from his laughterless
As from a long--dried well, where off--cast clutter's thrown.
Prophet and saint and kingly king, whose eyes,
Flashing authority, gaze and awe, you came
From wombs of flesh, though now enthroned in fame.
A mother heard the helpless wailing cries
Of voices that have won the world's acclaim
By wisdom, suffering, truth. August you rise
Above this wreck, by whom the children run
Careless with dancing limb,
And laugh, and mock at him;
And beggar, children, towering porch are equal in the sun.
From the opened door bursts upon glorious wings
Music: the shadowy silence moves with sound
That overflows and rolls returning round.
As if to itself, the pillared grandeur sings
Of deeper than all thought has ever found,
Of richer than the heart's imaginings,
Of higher than all hope has dared to see.
Like comment of a crow,
Dulled, reiterate, slow,
The human plaint croaks answer: Vanity! look on me!
Who made the stark unfeatured quarry--block
Live in those song--like pillars? And who smote
The ancient silence into note on note
Melodious as the river from the rock?
Out of the heart of man such splendours float
As make his vileness and his misery mock
The prisoned soul: which shall bespeak him more,
Grandeur of stone and sound,
Or fawning abject, bound
To his abasement, close as to a dungeon floor?
Sunken eyes, craving hands, defeated shape,
Whom to look on so humbles, you appear
But as the avoided husk, shrivelled and sere,
Cast by the spirit that springs up to escape
To its own reality and radiance there
For ever fresh as young bloom on a grape,
Triumphing to be human, yet to win
An amplitude beyond
Dull care and fancy fond,
And breathe the light that man was born to glory in.
Yet littleness, and envy, and obscure pain
Were mortised into that magnificence!
Trading his wretchedness for pity's pence,
Though this poor ruin from the depth complain,
Slave to his self--lamenting impotence,
Nor can his proud humanity regain;
O Wonder of Man, in his indignity,
Forfeit, disgrace, and rue,
Shares he not still in you?
Did not man sink so low, could he aspire so high?
Often we talk of the house that we will build
For airier and less jostled days than these
We chafe in, and send Fancy roaming wide
Down western valleys with a choosing eye
To hover upon this nook or on that,
And let the mind, like fingers pressing clay,
Shape and reshape the mould of an old desire,
Spur jogging Time, conjure slow years to days,
Until tall trees, like those far fabled walls,
Rise visibly to the mind's music. Here
We scoop a terrace under hanging woods
Upon the generous slope of a green hill
That gazes over alluring distances;
Listen to our merry children at their play,
And see the shadow lengthen from our roof
On plots of garden. Fancy, busy still,
Sows colours for the seasons in those plots,
And matches or contrasts the chosen leaves
That are to shade our saunters; the clean boughs
Of aromatic walnut; the wild crab
With, after snows of blossom, fiery fruit;
And beeches of a grander race beyond them
Withdrawing into uninvaded wood;
But, farther down, our orchard falls to where
The stream makes a live murmur all day long.
Man is a builder born: not for the shell
That makes him armour against stripping wind
And frost and darkness; for befriending roof
And walls to sally from, a bread--getter.
No, but as out of mere unmeaning sound
And the wild silence he has made himself
Marvellous words and the order of sweet speech,
Breathing and singing syllables, that move
Out of the caverns of his heart like waves
Into the world beyond discovery; so
Builds he, projecting memory and strong hope
And dear and dark experience into stone
And the warm earth he digs in and reshapes,
Dyeing them human, and with a subtle touch
Discovering far kinships in the sky
And the altering season, till the very cloud
Brings its own shadow as to familiar haunts,
And the sun rests as on a place it sought.
Earth also as with a soft step unperceived
Draws from her ancient silence nearer him,
Sending wild birds to nest beneath his eaves
Or to shake songs about him as he walks,--
Shy friends, the airy playmates of his joy.
Caesars may hoist their towers and heave their walls
Into a stark magnificence, impose
The aggrandised image of themselves, as trumpets
Shattering stillness. We'll not envy them,
While there's a garden to companion us
And earth to meet us with her gentle moss
Upon our own walls. They may entertain
Prodigally a thousand guests unpleased;
But we have always one guest that is ever
Lovely and gracious and acceptable,
Light. As I lay upon a hill--top's turf
I watched the wide light filling the round air
And I was filled with its felicity.
O the carriage of the light among the corn
When the glory of the wind dishevels it!
How it filters into the dim domes of trees
Spilt down their green height, shadows dropping gold!
How beautiful its way upon the hills
At morning and at evening, when the blades
Of grass blow luminous, every little blade!
How the flowers drink it, happy to the roots!
This lovely guest is ours to lodge; and we
Will build for it escapes and entrances
And corners to waylay the early beam
And keep its last of lingering: here to accept
Its royalty of fullness; there to catch
In dusky cool one lustre on the floor
Doubling itself in echoed radiances
Mellow as an old golden wine, on wall
And ceiling: oh, how gentle a touch it has
On choice books, and smooth--burnished wood, in such
Human captivity! When the winds roar over,
What sudden splendours toss into our peace
With reappearing victories! O the glory
Of morning through a doorway on the hair,
Neck, arms, young movements of a laughing child!
O mystery of brightness when we wake
In the night--hush and see upon the blind
The trembling of the shadow of a tree
Kissed by the moon, that from the buried light
Wooes ghostliness of beauty, and receives
And whispers it to all the world asleep.
Whatever it be made of, this dreamed home
Upon a hill, I know not in what vale,
Shall be a little palace for the light
To stray and sleep in and be blest for it.
So thought I: then I thought, O my dear Love,
Surely I am that house, and you the light.
The Spirit of Earth, robed in green;
The Spirit of Air, robed in blue;
The Spirit of Water, robed in silver;
The Spirit of Fire, robed in red.
Each steps forward in turn.
Spirit of Earth
I am the Spirit of Earth.
Spirit of Air
I am the Spirit of Air.
Spirit of Water
I am the Spirit of Water.
Spirit of Fire
I am the Spirit of Fire.
This is the shore of the sea. Stillness and hot noon;
Stillness after storm. The sun scorches the sand.
On the sand of the sea is a pyre:
On the pyre a young man's body,
White and naked,
Spirit of Earth
A child of Earth,
Spirit of Water
Out of the sea he is come
Spirit of Earth
To the last shore.
Ringed with flames this body lies; flames shining, flames entwining,
Spirit of Fire
Spirit of Fire
On the noon intenser light,
Branding on the air a fierier fire.
Spirit of Water
The slow sea--ripple sparkles up the sand.
Afar the mountains look down on the land.
Spirit of Air
He was swiftness.
Spirit of Earth
He is still.
Spirit of Water
A wave breaking; a wave broken.
At the sea's will.
His eyes drank of the world's beauty;
His eyes wept for the world's wrong.
Spirit of Fire
His eyes shine on the world no more.
Out of his mouth came forth song,
Wondering, trembling, triumphing, lamenting.
Spirit of Earth
His mouth will utter songs no more.
A Power breathed, a Power filled, a Power kindled and made strong
The heart this mortal throbbed with. O whence came it? O whence came
Power to frailty, hope to anguish? He was swift and he was strange,
Swift as stream, swift as wind; strange to all he came among.
Spirit of Fire
Leap, my flames! tower and quiver!
So into the world he came.
Spirit of Fire
No wind blows, the fire to bend.
It springs right upward to the sun.
Mount, my flames, ascend, ascend!
Spirit of Earth
Out of me this spirit rose,
His cradle green and sleepy earth;
A seed sown in a chance place,
Where--from, who knows?
Yet from my womb was his birth.
Spirit of Water
He was my lover. In river and sea
He plunged his body; his ardour flowed
With the flow of the streams, and the rain and the cloud.
Now I have rendered up my lover.
Spirit of Fire
Higher, higher, higher
In wild dishevelled blaze
Single plumes of light aspire
To be lost in the noon's haze.
These flames are your thoughts, these fires your desires, O Mortal!
Speeding before you, as you, the far forerunner
Outstript, O spirit arrayed in the sanguine colour
Of cloud at dawn, the laggard, the lulled and dulled,
Announcing a dawn too dazzling for your kind.
Spirit of Fire
You left them behind!
And winged in a radiant mist of love, you flew
Onward, alone: not on earth was a home for you,
Where men oppressed and trafficked, and hope was foiled,
Soiled, despoiled! Yet hope was the breath you drew.
Spirit of Air
The white body is changing: it has taken the swift shape
Of fire, and the fire passes, dazzling the noon,
Shedding all but swiftness and the ecstasy of flight,
Of the light into light.
Spirit of Fire
Sink my flames!
Spirit of Water
As a falling fountain
The flames sink down,
Spirit of Earth
But the heart remains
Unconsumed; it is mine in earth.
Out of the fire, O spirit, come forth
To us, who have been from the beginning.
Bond by bond, chain by chain,
Our hands are untwisting what bound you; we free you,
Release you from Time
And the harsh taste of the cold world,
Custom, calumny, ignorance, pain.
Come away! Noon is silent in heat that trembles,
Silent the sea that took you, and all the winds,
Silent the shadowy mountains; they look down;
And the stars that are known but in darkness to men,
They also, the true stars.
They are the silence; you the voice!
And the voice soars upward, singing,
From where the sparks expire
And the embers of fire darken,
A fountain cascading in drops as of light,
Flowing over, invading the silence, in joy to be free.
It ascends in its radiance, singing, singing; and we,
The Voices Of The Ocean
All the night the voices of ocean around my sleep
Their murmuring undulation sleepless kept.
Rocked in a dream I slept,
Till drawn from trances deep
At the invocation of morning calling strong,
I felt through sanguine eyelids light suffuse
My brain, and woke to a wonder of glad hues,
And over the trembling choir of birds that throng
Among the tamarisk and the glittering dews
I heard, O sea, thy song.
A charm has lured my feet, and I to the beach come down,
The bright abandoned beach, the curving strand,
And stripping upon the sand
I meet the salt spray o'er my body blown,
Embracing swift the jubilant waves that send
Their triumphing surges shouting to the shores around,
Until in a rushing splendour senses drowned
The solid earth forgetting, haste to spend
Their ever--fresh delight in the glory of swift sound
And the thunder without end.
But now from the wave withdrawn in indolent ease
Again desire upsprings to know thy heart.
I pace by the foam apart
Or linger in shadow shy, removed from any breeze.
Come, thou hast more to tell, thou hast not done,
I will be patient, all day lying in wait to hear
Upon the warm rock ledges hearkening near,
Of all thy thousand tones to lose not one,
While the shattered surf blows o'er me, leaping clear
To the seaward--journeying sun.
Radiant, hurrying delight of crests that dance and advance,
Careless, arrogant legions, tossing their milky manes;
How the wet light leaps and rains
From shivered plumes that melt in a lightning glance
And splendour of airy tresses backward blown!
What shouts of exultation, laughter sweet,
Wail of vanishing hosts and sighs of defeat,
Irresistible menace and anguished moan;
A thousand voices mingle in triumph and retreat:
But tell me, O sea, thine own!
Surely to happy mirth thou wooest my desire;
Willing is my heart with thy young waves to roam,
Lightly tripping foam,
Ever laughing nearer, ever dancing higher.
Sweeter than all glory, where the spirit wills
With heart outpoured in song triumphant as the tide,
With eager, open heart, ever to ride and ride!
Yet now at height of joy what tumult fills
Thy rushing strength? A sudden gloom invades thy pride
Resisted, an anger thrills.
Mutinous indignation that heavy Fate defies,
The ignorant rocks that set their sullen jaws,
In thy white flames that never pause
Rebelliously upleaping, my own heart I recognise.
I see the world's embattled towers uplift their height,
The wise, distrusting faces of them that trample truth;
I see the bodies slain of hopeless hoping youth;
And dark my heart upswells to the vainly echoing fight,
Cries of the helpless, tears of idle ruth,
And the wrong I cannot right.
Melancholy, to thee must I my vows resign?
The bitterness of my spirit give away
To the bitter broken spray?
O down--drawn sighing streams, with you repine?
Cover me, heavy waters, that I may hide my face
In darkness, nor behold the ruined flowers I sowed
Desolately forsaken that so sweetly glowed.
Defeated too am I, and languish in my place,
And still as glory fades, I bear a heavier load,
And the desert spreads apace.
Figures of sorrow now in my remembrance stand,
I see the face of her that her children ask for bread--
She turns away her head:
The face of him that all day toils on a stony land;
Women that ere the morning to their woe awake;
And him that sightless hears the murmur gaily streams,
Knocking weary the pavement that opens not for him.
O loud bewailing waves, you tremble as you break,
And you lift your dirges wild as you vanish into dream
For these and for my sake.
But hark! what voice emerges from the lamenting choir?
Surely Love is speaking! My heart trembles to hear.
Now no more I fear,
I cast my grief behind, I have but one desire;
To give my soul entire, nor to count any cost,
To pour my heart in passionate unreason sweet,
To follow and to follow with ever faithful feet
The steps adored of Love, whatever peril crossed,
With bliss or woe extreme my longing to complete,
In love divinely lost.
Sea, was this thy errand? Ah, but hush;
Again the wild lament, again the strife!
And now in mirth of life
Thy gleeful waters all overriding rush.
O have I heard at last? For now thy voices call
Mingled and sounding clear in a mighty voice as one.
In my heart they mingle that rejecteth none;
Sorrow that no longer shall my head appal,
Love, my sweetest joy; pain that I fear to shun;
I need, I need them all.
The desert sand at day's swift flight
Drank of the dew--cold vivid night
Where Nile flows as he flowed
When first men reaped and sowed
As though his stream since Time began
Bore all the history of Man,
Vast ages lapsing brief
As noiseless as a leaf.
But when the first high star, concealed
Itself by shadowing boughs, revealed
The glinting ripple, it seemed
As the great water streamed
That ears attuned might hear the strings
Plucked by the harpist for those kings
Who in persistence fond
Would be companion'd
Through the faint under--world, and still
Press the firm--clustered grape, and feel
Wind from the fanning plume
Sweetened with incense--fume;
Still watch the honey--coloured grain
Stiffen to ripeness on the plain,
Or dancers with slim flanks
Circle in chiming ranks.
For Time, so old, must abdicate:
Eyes and a smile that have no date
Respond from chiselled stone
Young as, each day, the dawn;
And pulsings of the carver's wrist
So subtly in those curves persist,
The presence in the form
To touch is almost warm.
But like the pictures dreams make glow
On darkness, that in daylight go
So soon, except they find
Some lodging in the mind,
Only by beauty can these cross
The dark stream of the dead to us.
Only the hot sun dwells
'Mid those long parallels
Of broken pillars, roofed with air,
In temples of unanswered prayer;
And Gods unfeasted own
Naught but a granite throne.
Rain and the scolding wind's uproar
And the black cloud befitted more
The towering walls that hem
City of wailing, wrath, and blood,
The city of the grave and shroud,
Whence arose the Word
That brought so sharp a sword.
O city stubbornly enthroned!
The city that the prophets stoned,
Over which Jesus wept,
And proud Rome vainly swept!
But as from heavens of brooding love
A peace unearthly beamed above
The hill--surrounded sea
Of lonely Galilee.
And we beneath those silent skies
Walked among flowers of paradise,
As if their happier seed
Knew peace on earth indeed.
Peace, by the world praised and eschewed,
Lived in that ageless solitude
And with no phrases deckt
Shone richer in neglect.
And under stony hills severe,
Where sounds are few, we still could hear
The shepherd from the rock
Pipe to his wandering flock.
Remote beyond the Syrian bay
At close of a long burning day
Into the dusk still shone
The snows of Lebanon.
Morning came dancing, Morning warmed
The blue sea--circle, whence she charmed
Isle after isle to rise
Rock--pointed toward the skies,
Whose names transfigured strand and cape
Into a legendary shape
Re--peopled from afar
But to be brought more near;
As if old ships and oar'd galleys
Still swept along the silent seas;
Sailors of Tyre in quest
Of the remoter West;
Athenians racing to undo
Their own decree, before it slew;
And Cleopatra's sail
From Actium flying pale;
And traffickers with rich Byzance
Past Patmos fading, lost in trance;
And Paul, on fire within
The sad world's soul to win;
And Rudel in love's dear duress
Turned eastward to his Far Princess,
To die for that one bliss,
The first and the last kiss;
And doomed Othello Cyprus--bound.--
The islands rose and sank around,
And when the day declined
Their shadows filled the mind.
Dim in the dawn stood Hector's ghost
Upon the mound where Troy lies lost.
But through the straits we sped
Turned to our dearer dead.
The hills divide, the seas unite
The valleys of a land of light,
But O how bare beside
That Hellas glorified
Which, wasted, clan by warring clan,
Yet made a splendour shine in Man
By that inquiring will
Whose way we follow still;
Built in the mind his palace rare,
Towered high as thought can dare
And thronged with images
Of joys and agonies,
Confronting destiny and wrong
With the high--symbol'd scene, and song
Threading its music through
The tale of wrath and rue.
But Time, so tender to a thought
That branches up from living root,
Has here unbuilt, defaced,
And Beauty dispossessed,
Conniving with men's minds inert,
Brute blows, and stupid skill to hurt,
As if 'twere half their joy
To maim and to destroy.
O Delphi, where all Hellas came
To hear the awful Voice proclaim
Fate, how beneath your steep
Is all--forgetting sleep!
No voice, no votary, no shrine;
Though the long vale be still divine
From that blue bay below
To the far mountain snow,
And soundless noon that idly warms
The scattered stones and shattered forms
Only the shadow brings
Of wheeling eagles' wings.
In the last light some column glows
Where once a white perfection rose
By the rebuilding mind,
Which treasures up a shape, a thought,
From footprint or from echo caught;
Hard gleanings, that attest
Oblivion has the best.
Fade coasts and isles, where the seed sown
Still flowers in all we are and own.
A future presses near
Clouds of unshapen fear.
And now the ghostly, vast night--fall
Like an age closing past recall
Seems, and this darkening sea
The wastes of history;
The sea that no proud trophy claims
For sunken ventures, foundered fames,
Dishevelled navies tost,
Ships like a bubble lost;
That keeps no sure abiding form
And rises in unconscious storm
Whipt by an ignorant blast,
And when the fury's past,
Sleeking its waves, mile after mile,
Into the image of a smile.
Is this what Time does still,
Working a witless will?
But through the dark, stopt by no seas,
Pass other Powers and Presences
Unseen from shore to shore,
Armed and at conscious war,
Ideas, mightier than men,
That seize and madden, free or chain.
The things unprophesied
Our prophecies deride;
But end is none, though the storms break
And the mind pale, and the heart shake.
Out of that future ring
Far trumpets challenging.
The Tram (In The Midlands)
A grinding swerve, a hissing spurt,
And then a droning through the dirt!
The tram glides on its wonted way
Of everyday, of everyday.
Past every corner still the same
Squat houses huddle, meanly serried,
An image of the mute and maim
With life behind their windows buried;
Blank windows staring under slate
That presses on them desolate
As eyes bereft of brows, and drips
On puddled, flowerless garden strips.
Is it evening, noon or morn?
Is it Autumn, is it Spring?
Nothing tells but the forlorn
Rain that is over everything.
A rain that seems too slow to fall
And drifts, an immaterial pall
Of wetness in the air; it leaves
A dismal glistening on the eaves,
And grimed upon the pavement lies,
For the dirt is in the very skies.
Like without, and like within!
Dull bodies clatter out and in,
And the bell clangs, as they subside
On the long seat, and on we glide,
Defensive creatures, all askance
At one another! Small eyes lance
Suspicion; fingers tighten close
On baskets; thin lips will not lose
A word too much, and skirts draw shy
From any touch too neighbourly.
And now a bald--head, grossly quaking
And lurching round for elbow space,
Sets a black--beaded bonnet shaking
Above a pinched averted face
Or stiffly--bastioned heaving bust
That virtuously expands distrust.
And all the fluttered narrow looks
Appear like little painful books
Of soiled accounts, where bargains keep
Their cherished tale of capture cheap.
For life is all a cheapening,
And the rain is over everything,
And there is neither mirth nor woe.
Who made it so, who made it so?
As I muse, as I muse,
Numbed at heart, with eyelids leaden,
Stupefying senses lose
All but sounds and sights that deaden;
Glassy gaze and shuffled feet,
Humid glide of the endless street
Passing by with rank on rank
Of dripping roofs and windows blank,
Till one dull motion drones the brain
Out of meaning, out of time,
And the blood beats to a chime
As of bells with mouth inane.
And now a monstrous ark it seems
That's hurried with the speed of dreams
Through streets of ages! On it drives
Among unnumbered years and lives.
And now the sound grows like a surging,
As if this speed a host were urging,
And in the sound are voices coming
Thick, and tumultuous music drumming;
And savage odours are astir
Of forest leaves and hidden fur,
And naked limbs of hunters glide
And warriors in the great sun ride,
And mutinous--nostrilled horses champing
With restless necks are strongly stamping.
The Roman purple passes proud
Like an eagle through a cloud.
Lo, knights--at--arms with pennons dancing
To death's adventure gay advancing,
And here a queen that is a bride
Crimson--robed and lonely--eyed,
And there a pilgrim's dusty feet
Faring to the heavenly city;
And now an idle beggar singing
How the sun and wind are sweet
A wayside song, a wanderer's ditty:
And still around, out of the ground,
The armies of the dead are springing;
And with unearthly speed and number
Compelled like those that walk in slumber
They follow, follow! And at my ear
An imp that squats with demon leer
Is screaming, See the Triumph go!
See for whom the trumpets blow!
The prophesied, that goes before us!
This is he, Time's crown and wonder
That has the very stars for plunder;
This is he, the Promethean,
(Hark the ever--rolling paean
With a wilderness of apes for chorus!)
Who fetched from heaven the stormy fire
To serve and toil for his desire,
And plumbed the globe, and spoiled old Earth
Of all the secrets of her birth;
See him, throned triumphant there,
Like a toad, with glassy stare;
Eyes, and sees not; ears, and hears not!
Heart, and hopes not; soul, and fears not!
A boy with a bunch of primroses!
He sits uneasy, flushed of cheek,
With wandering eyes and does not speak:
His hands are hot; the flowers are his.
But Spring, O Spring is in the world.
And to the woods my fancy flying
Sees all the little fronds uncurled,
Where still the dead brown bracken's lying
And a thousand thousand shining drops
Are on the young leaves of the copse.
The spurge has all his green cups filled--
A gust will shake and brim them over--
From trembling oats the rain is spilled;
I smell the sweetness of the clover.
Long pods of tendrilled vetch are thirsting,
White flowers on the thorn are bursting;
Twigs redden on the sapling oaks
Above the grass that shoots and soaks;
The streams flow silent, full and fast;
The cuckoo's cry is heard at last;
In forky boughs and leafy shade
There's busyness for every wing;
And sweet through stalk and root and blade
Run juices of the wine of Spring.
But the primrose perfume, faint and rare
Is like a sigh of Spring forsaken.
O shy soft beauty, torn and taken!
O delicate bruised tissue fair!
You are like the eyes of an outcast fond,
Or a face seen at a prison--grate:
For Beauty's but a vagabond
And knows no home and has no mate.
Alas! what dungeon walls we rear,
For our possession, round us here!
We make a castle of defence
Out of the dullness of our sense;
Possess our burrow like the mole;
And with the blundering hands of chance
Grow cruel in our ignorance.
What is another's springing soul
That I should seek to force and bind it?
To catch my gain where it has tripped,
To thrust it down when it has slipped,
To stupefy and dumb and blind it,
Fortress my virtue with its failing,
And kindle courage at its quailing?
What is another's thought, that I
Should wish it mine in effigy?
Ah! we that grasp and bind and tame,
It is ourselves, ourselves we maim;
We maim the world. The very Spring
Stops all mute and will not sing,
The sapless branches will not quicken,
The cells of secret honey sicken,
Giant brambles writhe and twist
About the trees in poisonous mist.
The spider fattens; flies oppress,
And the buds are blackened promises,
Nothing stirs, but the leaf is shed,
And all the world of wonder's dead!
O for the touch that shall awake!
O for the word that shall renew!
And all this crust of sense shall break
And the world of wonder pierce us through;
The scales be fallen from a sight
Ravished with fountains of delight,
And the sad dullness of our scorn
Be like remembered night at morn:
Then we shall feel what we have made
Of one another, and be afraid.
The dripping of the boughs in silence heard
Softly; the low note of some lingering bird
Amid the weeping vapour; the chill fall
Of solitary evening upon all
That stirs and hopes and apprehends and grieves,
With pining odours of the ruined leaves
Have like a dew distilled upon my heart
The air of death: but now recoiling start
Longing and keen remembrance out of sighs;
And forward the desiring spirit flies
Toward the wild peace of that illumined shore,
Which, left behind her, yet still shines before;
To Douro, rushing through the mighty hills.
Now his great stream with fancied splendour fills
Even this brooding twilight; a swift ghost,
Journeying forever to the glimmering coast,
Where his majestic voice is heard afar,
Exulting dim upon that ocean bar.
O Douro, gliding by dark woods, and fleet
Beneath thy shadowy rocks in the noon heat,
How my heart faints to follow after thee
On one true course to my deep destined sea!
To take no care of dimness or sunshine,
Urged ever by an inward way divine,
Nor falter in this heavy gloom that brings
So thick upon me lamentable things
Of earth, and hinders the swift spirit's wings,
And clouds the steadfast vision that sustains
Alone the trembling heart amid perpetual pains.
Dear friend, who thirstest, even as I, to be
Heir and possessor of sweet liberty,
Once more in memory let us pluck the hour
That bloomed so perfect, and renew the power
Of joy within our wondering breasts, to feel
That freshness of eternal things, and heal
All our unhappy thoughts in those pure rays.
Not yet the last of these delightful days
Into the dark unwillingly has flown,
And thou and I upon a hill o'ergrown,
That indolently shadows Douro stream,
Together watch the wonderful clear dream
Of evening. Under the dark shore of pines
Noiselessly running, the wide water shines.
Curving afar, from where the mountains lift
Their burning heads, through many a forest rift
The River comes, scenting the spaces free
In this broad channel, of his welcoming sea.
No more by silent precipices hewn
Out of the night, murmuring a lonely tune
To craggy Fregeneda; nor where shines
Regoa, throned among her purple vines,
Impetuously seeking valleys new;
But smoothing his broad mirror to the hue
And peace of heaven, unhasting now he flows
And with the sky unfathomably glows,
Even as on yonder shore the woods receive
In their empurpled bosoms the warm eve.
As when a lover gazes tenderly
Upon his loved one, and, as tender, she
Hushes her heart, her joy to realize,
So hushed, so lovely, so contented lies
Earth, by that earnest--gazing glory blest.
But on this hither bank that fervent West
Is hidden behind us, and the stems around
Spring shadowy from the bare and darkling ground.
Only a single pine out of the shade
Emerges, in what splendour soft arrayed!
Magical clearness, warming to the sight
As to the touch it would be: plumed with light,
Motionless upward the tree soars and burns.
But now the dews upon the freshened ferns
In the dim hollow gather, and cool scent
Of herbage with the pine's pure odour blent,
And voices of the villagers below
As home, with music, up the stream they row,
Greet us descending; every blossom sleeps,
And bluer and more blue the evening steeps
Water and fragrant grass and the straight stems
In tender mystery. Down a path that hems
The hollow, to our waiting boat we come.
Pale purple flames shining amid the gloom
Signal the autumn crocus: look, afar,
Betwixt the tree--tops, the first--ventured star!
Soon gliding homeward under shadowy shores
And deepened sky, to the repeated oars'
Strong chime we hasten. Now along pale sand
Our ripple leaps in silver; now the land,
High over the swift water darkly massed,
Echoes our falling blades as we go past;
Until, enthroned upon her hills divine,
The city nears us: lights begin to shine
Scarce from the stars distinguished, so the gloom
Has mingled earth and sky; more steeply loom
The banks on either side, at intervals
Tufted with trees, or crowned with winding walls;
And now at last the river opens large,
Filled with the city's murmur; from his marge,
Slope over slope, the glimmering terraces
Rise, and their scattered lamps' bright images
Cast on the wavering water; and we hear
The sound of soft bells, and cries faint or near
From the dim wharves, or anchored ships, whose spars
Entangle in dark meshes the white stars.
And pale smoke rising blue on the blue air
Sleeps in a thin cloud under heights that bear
Towers and roofs lofty against the west,
Where yet a clearness lingers. Now the breast
Of Douro heaves, foreboding whither bound
His currents hasten, and with joyous sound,
As though the encountering brine new pulses gave,
Lifts, to outrace our speed, his buoyant wave.
For, hearken, up the peaceful evening borne
Out of the wide sea--gates, low thunders warn
Of Ocean beating with his sleepless surge
Along the wild sand--marges: the deep dirge
Of mariners, that wakes the widow's ear
At night, far inland, terrible and near.
Fainter, this eve, he murmurs than as oft
His troubled music: here, by distance soft,
The abrupt volley, the sharp shattering roar,
And seethe of foam flung tumbling up the shore,
Mingle in one wide rumour, that all round
Is heard afar, robing the air with sound.
Deep in my heart I hear it. The still night
Deepens, as we ascend the homeward height,
And loud or low, in following intervals,
Over the hills the sound unwearied falls;
And as upon my bed my heavy eyes
Close up, the drowsing mind re--occupies.
O what a vision floats into my sleep!
As a night--shutting flower, my senses keep
The live day's lingering odours and warm hues,
That thought and motion with themselves transfuse,
Till sound and light and perfume are but one,
Mingled in fires of the embracing sun.
Yet still I am aware of Ocean stirred
Far off, and like a grave rejoicing heard.
Am I awake, or in consenting dreams
Pour thither all my thought's tumultuous streams?
His voice, to meet them, a deep answer sends:
My soul, to listen, her light wing suspends,
And, pillowed upon undulating sound,
For all desire hath satisfaction found.
He calls her thither, where the winds uncage
Vast longing, that the unsounded seas assuage.
Breeze after breeze her wingèd pinnace bears
Over the living water, that prepares
Still widening mystery: she her speed the more
Urges, exulting to have lost the shore,
Supported by the joy that sets her free,
Delighted mistress of her destiny,
Fills the wide night with beating of her wing,
And is content, for ever voyaging
By timeless courses, over worlds unknown,
Lifted and lost, abounding and alone.
I walked beside full--flooding Thames to--night
Westward; upon my face the sunset fell:
The hour, the spacious evening, pleased me well.
Buoyant the air breathed after rain, and kind
To senses flattered with soft sound and light
Of merry waves that leapt against the wind,
Where, broadly heaving barge and boat at rest,
The River came at flood; from golden skies
Issuing through arches, black upon the West,
To flame before the sunset's mysteries.
Far off to--night as a remembered dream
That different Thames, familiar as a friend,
That youthful Thames, to whom his willows bend
With private whisper; where my boat would come,
Heaped with fresh flowers, and down the cool smooth stream
Follow his green banks through the twilight home.
Far from these paven shores, these haughty towers,
Where wave and beam glorying together run,
As though they would disown those cradling bowers,
And gushed immediate from the molten sun.
Dazzled I turn; and lo, the solemn East
Before me comes. Soft to my eyes, yet bright,
London her vastness stretches in hushed light
Murmuring; wharf and terrace curve afar
Past bridge and steeple, thronging, great with least,
To Paul's high cross that sparkles like a star.
The distant windows glitter; and high o'er them,
Clouds unapproachable, illumined snows,
Tinged with calm fire that blushes like a gem,
As though themselves burned inwardly, repose.
All things, methought, that inward glory shared,
A radiant strangeness: nothing I beheld
But spoke in a new tongue to me, or spelled
New meanings; and within me a deep sense
Of portals opening, of an hour prepared,
Prophesied; and a light, transported thence,
Of expectation on me also came.
Glowing, the city waits what shall arrive:
The steep clouds smoulder as to sudden flame
They would burst forth, and the wave leaps alive.
Immediately stole over me the thought
Of this age ending; painful and oppressed,
Its cry, entreating still--rejected rest,
Echoed behind me. But I seemed to stand
Beyond; and over the near threshold brought
Of days to be, the air blew strong and bland.
I listened; and a voice, wherein bore part
Cloud, light, and wind, and water, thus began
Aerial tones; a voice from the deep heart
Of all things speaking to the heart of man.
Say, troubled one, what sorrow is it keeps
Thy spirit? Because thy latest dream is shed,
Is the root sapped, and the strong branches dead?
Forget'st thou that thy generations have
Their seasons, and for them her due term sleeps
Spring, with her buds, dreaming in Autumn's grave?
Because 'twas Autumn with thee, thou sit'st mute,
To the fall of the leaf consenting: yet thine eyes
Cast round thee, and consider what fair fruit
The full seeds bear in charge! Wake, and arise!
Wake, and for blither energy remit
This tedious questing in the inscrutable past,
This pondering the before and after vast.
O couldst thou take, like us, Time's quiet bloom,
On life alone expend thy freshened wit,
The burden and the joy alone resume!
The mountains groan not that the streams devour
With thievish tongue their ancient high estate,
Nor of her pining leaf complains the flower;
But thou enjoy'st not nor reject'st thy fate.
Pitying thee, the Powers that on thee cast
Thy destiny, 'mid labour solace sent.
For veiled they keep that infinite ascent
Of years, and by degrees the pathway show
Up which thou mountest, deemest still the last
Step won, and numbered all the stones of woe.
And easily triumphant thou lean'st forth
To grasp the final palm; when that eludes,
As easily dejected: placid Earth
Remains, a mirror for thy hundred moods.
Dream--builder, for whose dreams thy lips invent
Names of sweet sound, freedom and peace and truth,
Upon the bright fermenting mists of youth
Projecting a foredoomed reality:
Happy, if gross joys could thy brain content,
Or could thy faith match thy credulity;
Ever inweaving Earth's plain warp with thread
Of thy deep wishes, thine own heart's strong hue,
The mind thy prison, thought thy narrow bed,
With truth, with freedom what hast thou to do?
O yet, I answered, not in vain desire
Spurs us to gaze into the infinity,
To dip our hands in that wide whispering sea.
How shall one flower the whole wood's voices tell,
Or one small sphere interpret that full choir
Of orb with orb, music ineffable
From all worlds mingled? Yet since our best joy
Not in possession but beyond us lies,
Our hearts at last, weary of earth's annoy,
Only that far--off music satisfies.
Name beyond names, Heart of the Eternal Life,
Whom our faint thought hardly at times conceives,
Who hear'st but as the oak his fluttered leaves
The cry of parting spirits; who in the pang
For children born rejoicest; from whose strife
And travail issuing the bright worlds outsprang;
If the wide thought of thee my childish grief
Ever effaced, accept my manhood's vow!
O sweet and insupportable, O chief
And first and last of all loves, hear me now!
Me, whom this living vastness once appalled,
And this uproar disheartened and oppressed,
Now larger thoughts enfranchise, with sweet zest
Nourish, and this immensity sustains;
Buoyed as a swimmer upon ocean, called
From time to the eternal, my due pains
Accepting, in thy bosom I repose,
Of joys and griefs together make my bed,
In longing to set sure against all foes
My spirit freed, and with thy spirit wed.
Thou, thou remainest ever in lovely power
Triumphant, whom beginning never knew;
'Tis we alone that our own strength undo,
'Tis we alone that, to thy ardour lame,
Often defeated, miserably deflower
The joy thou gavest, quench the imparted flame,
And native sweet sourly to ashes turn.
O help, inspire! Us with thyself endow!
Through our brief actions let thy greatness burn,
As through the clouds the light is burning now!
For me, since thou this hour to see thee whole
Vouchsafest, no more shall my heart deny
That thou proceed'st, because I fail and cry.
Henceforth will I endure to walk right on
Nor my bliss too much ponder, nor my dole.
And since dear peace fortifies faith alone,
I trust thee, and not loth resign my heart,
Nor though thou shouldst betray me, wound and rend,
Would my course alter, that the better part
Have chosen, enduring to the unknown end.
So inwardly my lifted spirit sang.
And lo, that solemn joy to authorize,
With answering bloom before my lifted eyes
The clouds moved softly; the far western fires
A moment o'er the steeples paused and sprang.
Now on the eye the fading light expires.
But 'tis to me as if Earth cast off Day,
Assuming her own glory, and her flight
Unwearied urging on the eternal way,
Already glowed among the lamps of Night.
I lay upon my bed in the great night:
The sense of my body drowsed;
But a clearness yet lingered in the spirit,
By soft obscurity housed.
As an inn to a traveller on a long road,
Happy sleep appeared.
I should come there, to the room of waiting dreams,
In the time that slowly neared;
But still amid memory's wane fancy delighted,
Like wings in the afterglow
Dipping to the freshness of the waves of living,
To recover from long--ago
A touch or a voice, then soaring aloft and afar
The free world to range.
At last, on the brink of the dark, by subtle degrees
Came a chilling and a change.
Solitude sank to my marrow and pierced my veins.
Though I roam and though I learn
All the wonder of earth and of men, it is here
In the end I must return,
To the something alone that in each of us breathes and sleeps,
Profound, isolate, still,
And must brave the giant world, and from hour to hour
Must prove its own will;
To this self, unexcused and unglorified, drawn
From its fond shadows, and bare,
Wherein no man that has been, none that is or shall be,
Shares, or can ever share.
And it tingled through me how all use and disguise
Hide nothing: none
Avails to shield, neither pleader nor protector,
But the truth of myself alone.
And the days that have made me, have I not made them also?
Are they not drops of my blood?
What have I done with them? Flower they still within me,
Or lie, trodden in the mud?
Why for god--like freedom an irreplaceable Here,
An irrevocable Now?
They were heavy like strong chains about my bosom,
Like hard bonds upon my brow.
The moments oozing out of the silence seemed
From my very heart lost
In the stream of the worlds: I felt them hot like tears
And of more than riches' cost.
Yet what was it alien in me stood and rebelled
And cried, Nevertheless
My passion is mine, my strength and my frailty; I am not
Thrall unto Time's duress!
Then suddenly rose before me, older than all,
Night of the soft speech,
With murmur of tender winds, yet terrible with stars
Beyond fancy's reach;
Without foundation, without summit, without
Haven or refuge, Night
Palpitating with stars that dizzy thought and desire
In their unimagined flight,
O these most terrible! vast surmises, touching
The pulse of a fear unknown,
Where all experience breaks like a frail bubble,
And the soul is left alone,
Alone and abandoned of all familiar uses,--
Itself the only place
It knows,--a question winged, barbed and burning
In the answerless frost of Space.
I was afraid; but my heart throbbed faster, fiercer.
I trembled, but cried anew:
I am strange to you, O Stars! O Night, I am your exile,
I have no portion in you.
Though you shall array your silences against me,
I know you and defy.
Though I be but a moth in an abyss of ages,
This at least is not yours; it is I.
O blessèd be the touch of thought
That marries moments from afar,
That finds the thing it had not sought,
And smells a spice no treasure bought,
And learns what never sages taught,
And sees this earth a dazzling star!
As in the sheen of a lamp unseen,
The lamp of memory shrouded long,
There sprang before me, sweet as song,
The vision of a branch of bloom,
A swaying branch of blossom scented;
And in that bloom amid the gloom
My heart was luminously tented.
A score of years was melted, and I was young
And the world young with me,
When in innocence of delight I laid me down
Beneath a certain tree.
The breathing splendour of that remembered May
Had yet seven days to spill
In fragrant showers of fairy white and red
And in notes from the blackbird's bill,
When I laid me down on a bank by the water's edge:
In the glowing shadow I lay.
My very body was drenched in a speechless joy
Whose cause I could not say.
The sky was poured in singing rivers of blue;
The ripple danced in sight;
Close to the marge was a coloured pebble; it burned
Amid kisses of liquid light.
Like a hurry of little flames the tremble of gleams
Shivered up through the leaves and was gone.
Like a shaking of heavenly bells was the sound of the leaves
In the tower of branches blown.
And odours wandering each from its honeyed haunt
Over the air stole,
Like memories out of a world before the world,
Seeking the private soul.
But I knew not where my soul was: in that hour
Neither time nor place it knew!
It was trembling high in the topmost blossom that drank
Of the glory of airy blue;
It was dark in the root that sucked of the plenteous earth;
It was lovely flames of fire;
It was water that murmured round and around the world;
It was poured in the sun's desire.
Not the bird, but the bird's bright, wayward swiftness;
Not the flowers in magic throng,
But the shooting, the breathing and the perfumed breaking;
Not the singer it was, but the song.
I touched the flesh of my body, and it was strange.
It seemed that my spirit knew
It was I no more; yet the earth and the sky answered
And cried aloud, It is you!
Then into my blood the word of my being thrilled,
(Not a nerve but aware)--It is I!
Yet I could not tell my thought from the green of the grass,
My bliss from the blue of the sky
Overbrimmed, overflowing, I rose like one who has drunk
Of a radiance keener than wine.
I stood on the marvellous earth, and felt my blood
As the stream of a power divine.
Laughter of children afar on the air came to me
And touched me softly home.
There were tears in me like trembling dew; I knew not
Where they had stolen from.
Who is not my brother, and who is not my sister?
O wonder of human eyes,
Have I passed you by, nor perceived how luminous in you
All infinity lies?
Love opened my eyes and opened my ears; not one,
But his soul is as mine is to me!
I heard like a ripple around the world breaking
The voices of children in glee;
I saw the beauty, secret as starlit wells,
Treasured in the bosoms of the old.
I heard like the whisper of leaf to leaf in the nightwind
Hopes that the tongue never told.
Was it the grass that quivered about me? I felt
Not that, but the hearts beating
Close to my own, unnumbered as blades of the grass,
And the dead in the quick heart meeting;
And I knew the dreams of wandering sorrow and joy
Breathed in the sleep of the night
From the other side of the earth, that for me was glowing
To the round horizon's light;
The earth that moves through the light and the dark for ever,
As a dancer moves among
The maze of her sister stars, with a silent speed
In a dance that is always young:
And the heart of my body knew that it shared in all;
It was there, not alone nor afraid.
It throbbed in the life that can never be destroyed,
In the things Time never made.
Orpheus In Thrace
Dear is the newly won,
But O far dearer the for ever lost!
He that at utmost cost
His utmost deed hath done
The lost one to recover, and in vain,
What shall his heart, his anguished heart, sustain?
Not the warm and youthful sun,
Flowers breathing on the bough,
Nor a voice, nor music now--
Touches of joy, more hard to bear than pain!
These charm not where he is, but only there
Where she is gone, who took with her delight,
Peace, and all things fair,
And left the whole world bare.
And O, what far well's fountain shall requite
Him who hath drunk so deeply of despair?
Orpheus on a stone--strewn slope
High amid the hills of Thrace
Sets to the bleak North his face.
He a traveller from hope,--
As a bird whose mate is stricken
Flies and flies o'er ocean foam
Nor endures to seek a home,--
Seeks a land where no leaves quicken,
Where from gorges to the plain
Iron--tongued the torrent roars
Into troubled streams that strain
Eddying under barren shores;
Where thronged ridges darkly rise,
Shouldering the storms that sweep
Through the winter--loaded skies,
When far up in heavens asleep
For an hour the clouds unclose:--
Throned in peace beyond the bourne
Of their moving vapours torn,
Glimmer the majestic snows,
Whence an eagle slowly sails
O'er the solitary vales.
Such to Orpheus' pilgrim eyes
The unreached far mountains rise.
``Come,'' he groans, ``you storms, and scourge me,
Dull these inward pangs that urge me
Ever into new despair.
Make my flesh endure as steel,
Let me now the utmost feel,
Bring me news of things that bear--
Frozen torrents, naked trees
That abjure the summer's breeze,--
Keen upon this body fall!
O let me feel your fiercest sting or feel no more at all!''
His hand, half--conscious, straying
Over the well--loved lyre,
Strikes; frail notes obeying
Sadly in air expire.
Wingless they falter forth,
As the pale large plumes of snow
From the dim cloud--curdling North,
Unwilling and soft and slow,
That fall on the hands and the hair
Of Orpheus unheeded, and die,
As out of his heart's despair
He speaks to his lyre: ``Ah, why
Would I stir thee from silence now,
When silence is far the best?
As of old I touch thee, but thou
Ah, marvellous once was thy power
In the marvellous days of old!
I touched thee, and all hearts heard,
And the snake had no thought to devour,
And the shy fawn stayed and was bold,
And the panther crept near in desire;
And the toppling Symplegades hung
To hearken thy strings as I sung,
And Argo glanced through like a bird,
Like a swallow, to hear thee, my lyre!
And the soul of the dragon was stirred,
Till his vast coil slowly stooped
From the tree where the Fleece glimmered gold,
And his ageless eyelids drooped,
And his strength sank, fold by fold;
And only the dim leaves heard,
As we stept o'er his coils that were cold.
Mighty wast thou indeed;
But O, in my utmost need,
My heart thou couldst not quell,
My heart that loved too well!
I turned on the brink of the light;
Her hand hung fast in my own;
I was sure as a God in my might;
I gazed; she grew pale, she was flown.
Then the dawn turned back to the night,
And I stood in the world alone.
Eurydice, could I have loved thee less,
I had won thee lightly again.
My great joy wrought my wretchedness,
And thee, whom I love, I have slain.''
What lights are these that dance,
Like fire--flies clustering on the dusk hillside,
Mingle and then divide,
Swerve and again advance,
Peopling the shadows thick, till Rhodope
Seems rocking all her towering pines in glee?
Maenads of exultant glance,
Thracian maidens, Thracian dames,
Toss these perilous fair flames.
Soon their full tresses roll from neck to knee,
Swift as a dark shower in the sunset poured;
Soon panting bosoms from rent robes shine bare!
Thoughts leap in accord,
Bright as an unsheathed sword,
Tumultuously free, and mad to dare;
And loud they cry on Bacchus, their wild lord.
O can cheeks of white and red,
Lips that love made tremble often,
Eyes an infant's tears can soften,
Alter with a change so dread?
Yea, a deep fire craving fuel,
Like the dungeoned fires of Earth,
Pants from secrecy for birth,
Careless if its way be cruel.
While from tempest faint they stand,
Orpheus 'mid their riot strays,
Silent halts with listless hand
And with sorrow--sunken gaze.
``Who is this?'' in wrath they cry,
``Spectre sprung to mock our glee!
Woe to this pale face, for he
Joins our mirth or he shall die!''--
Singer, touch thy magic lyre!
Thou couldst stay them soft and still,
Tamed and gentle, to thy will.
Ah, in grief is no desire.
Grief in stony bonds hath bound him,
And these bright forms that surround him
With high torches menacing
And light spears in restless ring,
Seem his own thoughts raging, seem
Furies of embodied dream,
Furies whom 'tis vain to flee.
Alas, he hath for shield and sword
Only one defenceless word,
To piercing wound and branding flame
He answers with that piteous name
The world now echoes back alone.
``Eurydice!'' his soul flies forth in that belovèd moan.
Alas, that the hand should deflower
The treasure the heart loves best,
That the will of an alien power
Should blindly the soul have possest!
Proudly our own great woe
We accomplish, and laugh to have done.
Then strength passes from us; we know,
And we hide our heads from the sun.
Behold, as the dawn--flushed air
Glimmers on peak and vale,
To the pines on the upland bare
Come shadowy forms and pale;
Stealing, maiden and mother,
By single paths of dread,
And wondering each at the other
Bend over the piteous dead,
And touching those rent limbs, cry,
With kisses kneeling low,
In sad affrighted moan,
``It was not I!'' ``Nor I!''
What evil God blinded us so
To wound our beloved, our delight?
For our dancing thou hadst not a song,
And now we have none for thy wrong.
Though thy lyre could charm honey from stone,
Yet we pitied not thee, our delight!
Nay, thee who couldst heal us alone
In our grief, at whose magical boon
Peace brooded a dove o'er our pain,
And our hearts with the sun and the moon
Were at peace, that shall be not again,
Nor our hope with the spring be in tune;
Thee, thee, even thee, have we slain!
Woe for the world, woe!
In cherishing fair snow
Let us bury thee whom we marred,
With the lyre that our flame hath charred.
Gentle wast thou as a flower,
But careless as thunder were we;
And our tears, that should be as a shower
To raise and to foster thee,
Drop vainly, and past is our power
With that blindness and fury and glee.
Yea, the solace we wanted not then in our mirth
From our helpless sorrow is taken;
And for ever untuned is the beautiful earth,
And the home of our hearts is forsaken.
There is threat in the wind, and a murmur
of water that swells
Swift in the hollow: about me
a shadow is thrown;
For above is no valley sequestered
in shy, green dells,
But abrupt, sky--closing, a wall
and a vastness of stone.
Did the rock split asunder with ages?
or suddenly smote
The hand of a God on the mountain?
for under the face
Of the imminent height, at the humid
and cold rock--base,
From out of the dungeoned recesses,
the cavernous throat,
Disimprisoned there bursts, not a rill,
not a trickle of spray,
But broad in its gushing and full
and sweeping apace
A river arisen that dances
in laughter away.
Builded aloof; unscaleable;
To the fugitive cloud and the blue,
O Soul of the Rock!
Silent, remote as the moon,
that will'st not to hark
To the cry of the lamb on the precipice
lost from the flock;
If thou suffer the pine in thy cranny
that dizzily clings
Small--seen as a fern, or a thicket
of obstinate thorn,
'Tis disdain that neglects them, O rather
a scorning of scorn,
Unheedful of them as of those
Gushing out from beneath thee, unheard
as the cry of the bird
That skims from the shadow and hovers
a flashing of wings
Mid the flush and the greening of April,--
thou standest unstirred
As a desert uplifted, a desert
where bones rot and bleach,
As a barrenness knowing not change
nor date nor event,
As a strength without speech, without motion,
yet stronger than speech;
A bulk without feature, a winter
of force long spent;
And neither is hope, nor terror,
nor weakness there,
But a pressure and weight of oblivion
where no man is known,
Nor feature from feature distinguished
but all overthrown;
Like the rampart of Time that confronts us
enormous and bare,
Immuring the dream and the vision
whereby we have breath;
Like Night and the end of the light
to them that despair:
I stand in thy shadow and fear thee,
thou greatness of Death!
Come away, come away! There is light
in the water that glides;
Come away with the water that hastes
from the heart of the hills,
A sinuous ripple that sings
and that nowhere abides,
But broken, a murmuring sparkle,
on ledges and sills
Of the rock, as it swerves, carries in it
a wavering fire,
Like a thought, like a joy, that no barrier
stays from its flight,
Or a dance of young children that carol
their heart of delight;
For it calls to the bud to burst open,
the blade to thrust higher;
To my heart, to my heart, it is calling
``O follow! for here
Is thine own spirit, quick and enamoured
of love and of light;
O follow my swiftness and stay not
in shadows of fear!''
On beds in the valley, on sunny
Where roots are athirst and refreshed
and saplings grow bold
Bowing their youth to the breezes
in quivering ranks,
Primroses, a cluster of softness
and fragrance, unfold;
And the fairy anemone, shaking
her blossoms agleam--
They are kisses of light as they tremble
to touch and to part--
Is flushed, ah! how faint, as with fire
from the innermost heart
Of a world in whose veins is a laughter
as clear as the stream:
And the music upholds me, enchants me,
and borne like a wave,
I am melted, I flow, I am nought
but a hope and a dream,
And in me is the youth of the flowers,
and grief in her grave.
Sudden a gust flings a shadow!
and shivering, the black
Driven leaves at the roots of the oak--tree
are whirled up and lost
Like the wild thoughts of fear into darkness,
and strong boughs crack,
And a gloom rushes down with a wailing,
and out of it tossed
Pale snow is outshaken, and hail
drops icily keen
On young leaf and dead; and awakened
in tree--tops aloud
Is the roar of the storm that has gathered
the hills in a shroud
Until naught of the towering rock
but in glimmers is seen,
A vision unfeatured, a phantom
of terrible birth:--
Is it thou that appearest, a presence
divined in the cloud,
Thy ribs and thy knees and thy breasts,
O Titaness Earth?
Is it thine, the great voice that confuses
the winds and the floods
In a meaningless cry as of madmen,
a blindness of wrath,
Smiting the bosses of oak
and the virginal buds,
Negligent where thou hast beaten
thy desolate swath?
O thou, who hast armed as for battle
thy creatures wild
With fierceness of claw and of fang,
of hoof and of horn,
From thee, even thee, from thy heart--beat
was man, too, born
With flesh like a flower defenceless?
is he thy child?
In whose eyes are wonder and trouble,
who strikes, yet the wrong
He has done he turns from again
and with sorrow is torn:
How shall his heart be as thine
or in thy way strong?
For who that is born of a woman
has known not the hour
When the spirit within him is daunted
and this world comes
As an army against him, a terror
of alien power,
And fate, too vast to be borne,
his courage benumbs?
Lost he seems as a child
upon mountains alone.
Who has longed not then with longing
for a strength past pain
To endure the rending of sorrow
that makes hope vain,
To be kneaded in iron and stubborned
in armour of stone?
That hour when the heavens are shaken
within the mind,
And the world is an enemy armed,
have I not known?
For the strength of the stony mountain
have I not pined?
But lo! on a sudden, with sighing
the storm ends now
In a radiant relenting: golden
the light reappears
With a glory of drops that are dancing
on leaf and on bough;
And a music, a wandering music
returns to my ears.
From the primrose is breathing a freshness,
and wild, shy smells
From the moss, where the snowflake is melted
to dazzling dew,
And the voice of the birds on the banks
is uplifted anew
To the carolling voice of the river
that onward swells.
Onward away, where the buds
gleam white on the tree!
The rain and the gloom are forgotten
in heaven's young blue;
And my heart flows out with the river,
the river with me.
In a trance, in a trance I listen;
and into my soul,
As it draws far back to a stillness
With infinite sound gather
and gradual roll
The voices of all the torrents
on earth outpoured.
``We tarry not, rest not, sleep not,''
aloud they cry,
``We are swift as the hours that crumble
thy strength into dust;
We build thee no home, nor a fortress
wherein to trust;
But in us is the sound of dominion
falling from high,
And the kings of the world dethroned
and towers laid bare.
We move, we are ever beyond;
we change, we die;
We laugh, we live; to follow
wilt thou, too, dare?''
How shall I not go with you,
O waters swift?
Too long in yesterday's self
I tarry, and keep
The dust of the world about me.
Lose me, a wave in the waves
that laugh and leap!
Lo, into uttermost time
my thoughts I send:
And because in my heart is a flowing
no hour can bind,
Because through the wrongs of the world
looking forth and behind,
I find for my thought not a close,
for my soul not an end,
With you will I follow, nor crave
the strength of the strong
Nor a fortress of time to enshield me
from storms that rend.
This is life, this is home, to be poured
as a stream, as a song.
Thunder On The Downs
Wide earth, wide heaven, and in the summer air
Silence! The summit of the Down is bare
Between the climbing crests of wood; but those
Great sea--winds, wont, when the wet South--West blows,
To rock tall beeches and strong oaks aloud
And strew torn leaves upon the streaming cloud,
To--day are idle, slumbering far aloof.
Under the solemn height and gorgeous roof
Of cloud--built sky, all earth is indolent.
Wandering hum of bees and thymy scent
Of the short turf enrich pure loneliness;
Scarcely an airy topmost--twining tress
Of bryony quivers where the thorn it wreathes;
Hot fragrance from the honeysuckle breathes,
And sweet the rose floats on the arching briar's
Green fountain, sprayed with delicate frail fires.
For clumps of thicket, dark beneath the blaze
Of the high westering sun, beset the ways
Of smooth grass narrowing where the slope runs steep
Down to green woods, and glowing shadows keep
A freshness round the mossy roots, and cool
The light that sleeps as in a chequered pool
Of golden air. O woods, I love you well,
I love the flowers you hide, your ferny smell;
But here is sweeter solitude, for here
My heart breathes heavenly space; the sky is near
To thought, with heights that fathomlessly glow;
And the eye wanders the wide land below.
And this is England! June's undarkened green
Gleams on far woods; and in the vales between
Gray hamlets, older than the trees that shade
Their ripening meadows, are in quiet laid,
Themselves a part of the warm, fruitful ground.
The little hills of England rise around;
The little streams that wander from them shine
And with their names remembered names entwine
Of old renown and honour, fields of blood
High causes fought on, stubborn hardihood
For freedom spent, and songs, our noblest pride,
That in the heart of England never died,
And burning still make splendour of our tongue.
Glories enacted, spoken, suffered, sung,
You lie emblazoned on this land now sleeping;
And southward, over leagues of forest sweeping
White on the verge glistens the famous sea,
That English wave, on which so haughtily
Towered her sails, and one sail homeward bore
Past capes of silently lamenting shore
Victory's dearest dead. O shores of home,
Since by the vanished watch--fire shields of Rome
Dinted this upland turf, what hearts have ached
To see you far away, what eyes have waked
Ere dawn to watch those cliffs of long desire
One after one rise in their voiceless choir
Out of the twilight over the rough blue
Like music!... But now heavy gleams imbrue
The inland air. Breathless the valleys hold
Their colours in a veil of sultry gold
With mingled shadows that have ceased to crawl;
For far in heaven is thunder! Over all
A single cloud in slow magnificence
Climbs like a mountain, gradual and immense,
With awful head unstirring, and moved on
Against the zenith, towers above the sun.
And still it thickens luminous fold on fold
Of fatal colour, ominously scrolled
And fleeced with fire; above the sun it towers
Like some vast thought quickening a world not ours
Remote in the waste blue, as if behind
Its rim were splendour that could smite us blind,
So doom--piled and intense it crests heaven's height
And mounting makes a menace of the light.
A menace! Yes, for when light comes, we fear.
Light that may touch, as the pure angel--spear,
Us to ourselves, make visible, make start
The apparition of the very heart
And mystery of our thoughts, awaked from under
The mask of cheating habit, and to thunder
Bare in a moment of white fire what we
Have feared and fled, our own reality.
And if a lightning now were loosed in flame
Out of the darkness of the cloud to claim
Thy heart, O England, how wouldst thou be known
In that hour? How to the quick core be shown
And seen? What cry should from thy very soul
Answer the judgment of that thunder--roll?
I hear a voice arraign thee. ``Where is now
The exaltation that once lit thy brow?
Thou countest all thy ocean--sundered lands,
Thou heapest up the labours of thy hands,
Thou seest all thy ships upon the seas.
But in thine own heart mean idolatries
Usurp devotion, choke thee and annul
Noble excess of spirit, and make dull
Thine eyes, enfleshed with much dominion.
Art thou so great and is the glory gone?
Do these bespeak thy freedom who deflower
Time, and make barren every senseless hour,
Who from themselves hurry, like men afraid
Lest what they are be to themselves betrayed?
Or those who in their huddled thousands sweat
To buy the sleep that helps them to forget?--
Life lies unused, life with its loveliness!
While the cry ravens still, ``Possess, Possess!''
And there is no possession. All the lust
Of gainful man is quieted in dust;
His faith, his fear, his joy, his doom he owns,
No more: the rest is parcelled with his bones,
Save what the imagination of his heart
Can to the labour of his hands impart,
Making stones serve his spirit's desire, and breathe.
But thou, what dost thou to the world bequeathe,
Who gatherest riches in a waste of mind
Unto what end, O confidently blind,
Forgetful of the things that grow not old
And alone live and are not bought or sold?''
Speaks that voice truth? Is it for this that great
And tender spirits suffered scorn and hate,
Loved to the utmost, poured themselves, gave all
Nor counted cost, spirits imperial?
Where are they now, they that our memory guard
Among the nations? Shall I say enstarred
And throned aloof? No, not from heavens of thought
Watching our muddied brief procession, not
Judges sublime above us, without share
In our thronged ways of struggle, hope, despair,
But in our blood, our dreams, our deeds they stir,
Strive on our lips for language, shame and spur
The sluggard in us, out of darkness come
Like summoned champions when the world is dumb;
Within our hearts they wait with all they gave:
Woe to us, woe, if we become their grave!
It shall not be. Darken thy pall, and trail,
Thunder of heaven, above the valleys pale!
Another England in my vision glows.
And she is armed within; at last she knows
Herself, and what to her own soul belongs.
Mid the world's irremediable wrongs
She keeps her faith; and nothing of her name
Or of her handiwork but doth proclaim
Her purpose. Her own soul hath made her free,
Not circumstance; she knows no victory
Save of the mind: in her is nothing done,
No wrong, no shame, no glory of any one,
But is the cause of all and each, a thing
Felt like a fire to kindle and to sting
The proud blood of a nation. On her brows
Is hope; her body doth her spirit house
Express and eloquent, not dumb and frore;
And her voice echoes over sea and shore,
And all the lands and isles that are her own
In choric interchange and antiphon
Answer, as fancy hears in yonder cloud
From vale to vale repeated low and loud
The still--suspended thunder. Hearts of Youth,
High--beating, ardent, quick in hope and ruth
And noble anger, O wherever now
You dedicate your uncorrupted vow
To be an energy of Light, a sword
Of the ever--living Will, amid abhorred
Din of the reeking street and populous den
Where under the great stars blind lusts of men
War on each other, or escaped to hills
Where peace the solitary evening fills,
Or far remote on other soils of earth
Keeping the dearness of your fathers' hearth
On vast plains of the West, or Austral strands
Of the warm under--world, or storied lands
Of the orient sun, or over ocean ways
Stemming the wave through blue or stormy days,
Wherever, as the circling light slopes round,
On human lips is heard an English sound,
O scattered, silent, hidden, and unknown,
Be lifted up, for you are not alone!
High--beating hearts, to your deep vows be true!
Live out your dreams, for England lives in you.
At Tiro, in her father's tower,
The young Cristina had her bower,
Over blue Bolsena's lake,
Where small frolic ripples break
Under a grove of sycamore
On the sandy eastern shore.
There one clear May eve she sat
Leaning over the rich mat
Hung across the window--sill,
While her doves with eager bill
Fluttered round her for the grain
In her spread hands; up again
Now they soared through golden light,
Radiant in a swerve of white,
Round the trees, now scattering
With a shiver of many a wing,
Soft as snowy drops of foam
Singly they alighted home,
And swaying each a sheeny throat
Crooned their comfortable note.
On a sudden another sound
Smote Cristina from the ground.
Bending over, she espied
Wretched ragged folk, who cried,
Hoarsely: ``See, the doves are fed;
We, men and women, have not bread.''
While Cristina, with a shy,
Looked upon them, her young heart,
New to sorrow, felt the dart
Of pity pierce her body through,
And she spoke: ``What must I do?''
Then with a thought her bosom beat,
And swift away on frightened feet
To her father's chapel, rich
With images in carven niche,
Breathless and bright--eyed she sped,
Most in dread of her own dread,
Traitor to her purpose; took
The idols in her hands that shook
And brought them gathered in her gown
And from the window cast them down.
The ragged people cried and snatched
This broken treasure; then were matched
Strange companions: here the bust
Of gazing Jupiter august
Weighed on a sore--blotched cripple; there
Against a scullion's clouted hair
Apollo's silver shoulder shone,
While, near by, a withered crone
Hugged into her bosom old
Venus' arm and breast of gold.
Mumbling o'er their spoils they went,
A troop to stir the merriment
Of gods; but sad Cristina sobbed.
When the stately father robbed,
Entering found his pagan shrine
Emptied of its works divine,
Each by a famous craftsman wrought,
Chosen well and dearly bought,
And suffered only to be scanned
(With fond touches of the hand)
By the nice appraising eye,
Duke Urban cried a grievous cry:
But when at last he understood
The crime of his own flesh and blood,
Grief was swallowed up in rage.
``Pest on this corrupted age!''
He cried. ``This is this new god's work.
And now I find the venom lurk
In my own child, in my own home!
I am a citizen of Rome.
She shall have justice: take her hence,
And let my dungeon teach her sense.''
Cristina weeping pleads the pain
Of the famished folk; in vain!
Straightway she is cast and bound
In a dungeon underground.
Three days went. ``Now bring her out,''
Said Urban. Servants, much in doubt,
Led her from the dungeon door,
Much in doubt yet wondering more,
For the damp and starving gloom
Had but glorified her bloom,
And her brow was brave, as she
Stepped before her father: he
With a sullen doubtful glance
Some moments looked on her askance.
``Art thou taught?'' at last he said.
Proud she lifted up her head.
``Father, if I wronged thee, thou
Didst mar the face of mercy. Now,
By God's grace, thy cruel wrong
Hath but made my soul more strong.
I have suffered for thy pride:
Let thy poor be satisfied.
See, God stands upon my side!''
Duke Urban flushed an angry hue.
``Wilt thou brave me to thy rue,
Child?'' he cried. ``Since in thee still
Some imp of evil works his will,
Pricking thee outrageously,
I will burn him out of thee.
Go, build a furnace; bind her in,
And let the flame purge out her sin.''
All her women wept, implored,
``Ah, be merciful, dear lord!''
But the more imperious came
His answer: ``Cast her to the flame.''
When that evening fell, a light
Rose and shuddered up the night.
On the reddened shore around
Soldiers kept the fiery ground,
Where amid the furnace stood
Cristina: spite of hardihood,
None but turned away his eye
To see so sweet a creature die.
Swifter roared the bright fire, dancing
Madder, on their armour glancing,
While the people kneeling wailed.
Suddenly all faces paled.
In their ears a clear voice sang.
From amidst the fire it sprang
Joyous; and the soldiers raised
Their heads, and all the people gazed;
There in the moving crimson core
Of the flames that sound and soar,
Coil and quiver, twist and spire,
'Mid the insufferable fire,
Like a breathing beauteous rose,
Nay, like a precious vase that glows
Outlined intense and clear and white,
Absorbing all the burning light
Into its tissue, through and through,
To purify the shell--like hue,
They behold Cristina stand,
Lifting either little hand,
And with parted lips, and eyes
That the fierce flame glorifies,
See her form transfigured shine
Singing in that fiery shrine--
An embodied rapture! Awe
Fell upon all them that saw.
The young voice melted in their ears,
And beauty hushed them into tears.
Heaven seemed opening on their sight
To its inmost soul of light,
And the daily world of woes
Fell from off them, and they rose
In a rapture: faces, turned
Each unto his neighbour, burned,
While they cried with voices full,
``A miracle, a miracle!''
Urban in his dark tower heard
Trembling that exultant word.
Rage by stabbing terror spurred
Swelled his heart to madness. Straight
With a torch from the open gate
Striding he commanded: ``Curst
Be this snake that I have nursed!
She has witched to her desire
A demon lover, a fiend of fire;
Yet she shall not 'scape me now.
Ere another night, I vow,
She shall die. With morning take
And throw her deep into the lake.''
Though men groaned and women shrieked
At such cruel vengeance wreaked,
None this old man's rage gainsaid;
For within their hearts they prayed
Some new marvel should confound
All his fury. Morning found,
On the glimmering shore assembled,
A great multitude that trembled
Half with hope and half with fear,
Hemmed behind the levelled spear
Of armed ranks; and over all,
Ringed by silent lances tall,
In a high seat Urban sat,
By threatening fingers pointed at,
Motionless with eager frown
And on the wide lake gazing down.
Soon the sun's uprising glowed
Over the eastern hill, and showed,
'Mid the waters that anew
Shivered silvering into blue,
A single boat; it brightly shone
Where Cristina knelt thereon,
And the hangman at her side
Busy bending over tied
Round her neck a great mill--stone;
In the water she was thrown.
Passionate arose the groan
From those watchers, but as soon
Changed into a paean's tune;
For she sank not, but was seen,
Where death's bubble should have been,
Standing on the stone that bore
Her bare feet floating toward the shore,
With little tremblings at the knees
As the buoyant, urging breeze
Rocked her onward. With a shout
Thronged the people, stretching out
Eager arms, or under spears
Thrust their heads with joyful tears,
Clapped their hands and cried to see
So magical a wonder. She,
Simple in her loveliness,
By one hand holding up her dress
From the wave that washed its hem
With white sparkle, seemed to them
Fresh as Venus on her shell
Borne o'er the blue Ionian swell.
Round her head the soft--blown hair
Played in sunny streams of air,
Save one long tress on her breast
That her clasping fingers pressed.
In a dream she heard the cries,
Saw the bright and crowding eyes
Near and nearer; when a strong
Sudden tumult rose; the throng
Turned, and lo! on his high chair,
'Mid the spearmen struggling there,
Duke Urban with head fallen back
And the full vein swollen black
On his throat: his fingers tear
At the suffocating fear
That holds him by the panting heart
Breathless, and his fixed eyes start,
While the heaving hubbub round
Rocks about him; in hoarse sound
Of vengeance his death--gasp is drowned.
But Cristina floating nigh
When she saw this, piteously
Bowed her gentle forehead low
In her hands, and cried, ``Ah, woe
On me and mine! O Lord of Peace,
Now my wretchedness release!''
Even as in despair she prayed,
One that on the shore delayed
At the crowd's edge, watching all
And doubtful what might yet befall,
Scowled and said within his teeth,
``This witch--girl comes to be our death,''
Strung his bow and spurred by fear
Drew an arrow to his ear,
And while still this fierce uproar
Held the wild throng on the shore
Sharp upon the tender throat
The iron barb Cristina smote.
Ere a man had turned to note,
She was falling; ere a tongue
Had one cry of warning rung,
She had fallen, and the foam
Tossing shoreward washed her home.
As a sudden silence rushed
Over lips in terror hushed,
Rolled amid the shallow spray
At their feet her body lay.
Dark is the world to the weak will
As to feet stumbling on a hill
Benighted, when no stars appear.
But as a star that beacons clear,
O beauty of courage, thou dost shine
On souls that falter and that pine.
But most in bodies frail and young
Is thy beauty seen and sung.
There, like a fountain ever new,
Thou dost scatter sunny dew,
Troubling our self--bewildered night
With simplicity of light.
Therefore is Bolsena's lake
Dear for fair Cristina's sake.
Yea, the stone that bore her feet
And still bears the footprint sweet,
Housed in alabaster shrine
Of carved work, as a thing divine,
And by dead lips' kisses worn,
Shall be kissed in sorrow's scorn
By lips of thousands yet unborn.
Where is all the beauty that hath been?
Where the bloom?
Dust on boundless wind? Grass dropt into fire?
Shall Earth boast at last of all her teeming womb,
All that suffered, all that triumphed to inspire
Life in perfect mould and speech, the proud mind's lamp serene--
Nothing? Space be starry in tremendous choir--
In this deserted chamber, as the evening falls,
Silent curtains move no fold;
Long has ebbed the floor's pale gold;
Shadows deepen down the silent walls.
The air is mute as dreams beneath a sleeper's face,
But every hovering shadow seems to hold
The look of things forsaken, each in its own place,
Memories without home in any mind,
Idle, rich neglect and perfume old--
Over these the glimmer of the twilight fades;
Infinite human solitude invades
Forms relinquished, hues resigned.
O little mirror, round and clear,
In solemn--coloured shadow lying
Cold as the moon, pale as a tear,
With spiritual silver beam replying,
Indifferently to all things as to one;
Beauty's relic and oblivion,
But void, void, void! Desolate as a cave
Abandoned even of the breaking wave,
A home of youth and mirth, when all its guests are gone!
As I touch thee in the silence here,
Where thou liest alone, apart,
Through the silence of my heart
Thou flashest elfin flames of fear.
Like a thought of lost delight,
Like love--sweetness, like despair,
Come faint spices of the night
Floating on the darkened air.
The air is tender with the sense of dew,
Is tranced, is dim, is heavy, as if there hung
Within the tinges of its shadowy hue
Ghosts of lost flowers, with all their petals young,
And the young beauty they made incense to.
O forlorn mirror, is there nothing thine?
The cup is emptied of its fragrant wine,
The dress is vacant of the breathing form,
And thou that gleam'st
All absence of what once moved gracious, white and warm
In thy clear wells, or luminously mused,
O little mirror long disused,
Laid in this empty bower's recess,
Thou thyself seem'st
The soul and mystery of emptiness.
Yet if I should raise thee now,
As once and oft, thou knowest how,
Hand and slim wrist, smooth as a flower--stem, raised
Thy silent radiance, and with intent brow
Eyes within thee gazed
Seeking thine oracle,
Shall not from these pellucid secrecies appear
Not I, nor any shape of this dim room,
But all that in thy cave of lambent gloom
Hath dwelt and still may dwell,
Ambushed like visions bound in sleeping memory's cell;
All that thy brightness buries as the sea
Tossed bones and crusted gold: had I the key,
Might'st thou not open depths, might'st thou not yield,
Wonder of wonders! what since time began
Was never yet revealed,
The unmapped, unmeasured, secret heart of man?
Half--shut eyes voluptuously
Lightening, as the bosom swells and glows;
Smile to smile flowering from an ardent thought:
O what moments didst thou deify
With the promise of life crushed to wine
Redder than the cheek's triumphant rose!
--But from deeper places hast thou brought
Nothing? Are not other answers thine?
Hast thou not heard, hast thou not seen,
Hast thou not shown, hast thou not found
Shames unwhispered, terrors bound,
Earthquake pangs of aghast surmise,
When with itself the heart has been
Face to face in an hour profound?
Out of thee what ghosts shall rise,
Shapes and gestures, and accusing eyes!
World--flattered faces in midnights of pain;
Faces defaced by tiger--lusts insane;
Faces appalled before a self unguessed;
Ashaming dawns on faces fallen and dispossessed!
O what glimpses hast thou flashed in dread,
With what hauntings wast thou visited,
Apparitions of a soul made bare
Shuddering at the thing it looked on there!
But thou art stainless, though the heart has bled,
Thou art silent as the air
Or the wave that closes smooth above the drowner's head.
No man hath seen his soul
Save for a glimpse in the night
Brief as an ember of coal
Blown for an instant bright.
To see his own soul as it is,
Eternity must enter him
With the torches of Seraphim
That have shone to the last abyss.
Mirror, couldst thou show the spirit this,
Then within this narrow room
Were the Judgment and the Doom.
For by so much as its own self it knew,
Searched by that burning vision through and through
To the innermost of where it crouched and hid
Amid the husks of the mean deeds it did,
Amid the shadow of all it shunned, the quest
It turned from, and in palterings acquiesced,
To the uttermost of what its eager passion
Caught of the glory springing to re--fashion
Hope and the world, and great with pity saw
Life darkly wrestling with the angel, Law--
By such a measure, molten in that fire,
Should the soul mete itself on God's desire,
Suffer at last all wisdom, and endure
The beam and vision of a thought all--pure.
O were not this to taste Heaven's dawn, or dwell,
Because of knowledge, in the pains of Hell?
Where is all the wailing, all the want
That sorrow tore
From Love's bleeding breast? Extinguished quite?
Shall the wide--winged glory of hope extravagant,
Shall the laughter, shall the song that sprang to soar
Fall, and no ear hearken, and their falling flight
Echoless waste walls of adamant
Draw wide the curtain! Fabulous, remote
Night is come.
Over Earth's lost bosom fragrant breathings float
Into glimmering heights of gloom,
But upon the solitary verge extreme
Steals a beam.
Hushed and sudden, ere the eye could note,
Lo, the moon is there!
Innocence of splendour, gazing bare,
Drenches leaves in quiet, thought in dream.
Is it Earth's pale mirror lifted lone
For an answer to her million sighs?
Can that far Tranquillity atone
In the gaze of those unnumbered eyes
For the pang and for the moan,
For the heart's dim burial and long dirge,
Luring, as she lures the mutinous sea--surge,
To her will of peace this human tide?
From a charmed shadow on the shorn hill--side
Hand--in--hand lovers through the trees emerge,
And pause; their very souls are glorified,
Their feet tread airy on immaterial ground,
With marvelling gaze they feel
That well of spiritual light o'erflow
The listening hush, and steal
Fear and trouble, as though
The world were one vast music of ethereal sound
And they a stillness in the midst of it.
Peace, peace and pity! pardon, pity, peace,
Passing all mortal wit!
O truth long--sought and magically found,
O wonder and release!
O secret of the world long--hidden in day's dust!
They bathe their hearts in that sweet dew, their hands
Thrill clasping in a touch that understands
Nothing magnificent but a divine surrender
Absolving and august.
To distances immersed and tender
Unfolds this vale of struggle hard and pent,
Region of unwon ravishment
In unadventured lands,
A place of leaves and lonely light and leafy scent
Storied like that old forest of the perilous Fleece.
Sorceress of million nights!
Hast thou charmed indeed the brew,
When the stealth of perverse rites--
Mouths that mutter, hands that strew,--
Love tormented and malign,
Flushed with terror like a maddening wine,
Sought another's rue?
Hecate of the cross--roads, hast thou hearkened
To the sailing witch's mew
And the felon raven's croak
When the shuddering winds were darkened
And the leaves rushed from the withered oak?
Ah, not these foul toys would I invoke!
O for some supreme enchanting spell,
Voice of a God crying aloud,
Felt and feared on Earth's heart--strings,
To conjure and to compel
Like a spectre from the shroud
Or like incense--dust that springs
Into fire and fragrant cloud,
Out of thy blind caves and cold recesses,
Out of that blank mirror's desert beam
All the unnumbered longings and wild prayers,
Infinite heart--broken tendernesses,
Indignations and despairs
That from man's long wound of passion stream,
Sucked like vapour, like a mist of tears
Into that imagined peace, that ecstasy!
O surely, surely, thou hast wrought thy part
In every secret and tempestuous heart,
Thou that hast gleamed on thousand battle--crimsoned spears,
Thou that wast radiant on Gethsemane!
She has seen not, she has heard not.
Hearts have leapt for her, but she has stirred not.
Pity she has made, but none has had,
Though her magic mingles with Earth's want
And the trouble of Earth's tender sons,
Thunder of the builded Babylons,
Music of the dreaming poet's chant,
Venture of the steering argosies,
With a light as of divine fulfilment clad
Breathing in for ever syllables of peace.
Peace, is it peace? Yet Earth, dark Earth,
Mother, O Mother, thou that nourishest
In the blind patience of thy teeming breast
Hope without end; who drivest life to birth,
Yet numberest not our dear and sacred dead,
Unheeding of our anguish and lost cries
So thou mayst build beyond us, in our stead,
A race enriched with all for which we bled,
Of haughtier stature and of kinglier eyes;
Thou of whose vast desire strong realms of old,
The dynasty of empires, were but waves
That towered and crashed into their splendid graves,
For thine unresting hunger to remould
Yet mightier, O insatiable! Doth fear
Not shake thee, Mother, seest thou not ev'n here
In that cold mirror's answer what shall steep
Thee also in oblivion? Thou shalt keep
Of all the fruit of thy most fiery spring,
Stored riches of thy sleepless trafficking,
And proud perfection thou hast travailed for,
Nothing! The beauty that thy body bore
Fresh and exulting (Mother, dost not weep?)
Laughter of streams, young flowers, and starry seas,
Pillar and palace, heaven--faced images
That man has wrought, his tossing heart to ease,
Nothing! To cloud shall vanish the deed done;
The bannered victory, the wrong borne alone,
Nothing! and thou be desolate and none
To feel thy desolation: emptiness,
Night within night, immense and issueless,
Till as a breath upon the mirror dies,
Fades the last smoke of thy long sacrifice.
Out of the deeps, trembling, the soul
Cries through night to the silent pole:
``I that am want, I that am grief,
I that am love, I that am mirth,
I that am fear, I that am fire,
Though thou clothe me in beauty brief,
Though I have worn thy sweet attire,
I, thy endless sorrow, Earth,
Dwell in the glory of God's desire,
That kneads for ever in the flesh
Of man, to make his spirit afresh,
A marvel more than all thy wandering seas,
And mightier than thy caverned mysteries,
Nor stays nor sleeps, but world on world transfuses
Melted ever to diviner uses,
Through infinite swift changes burning,
Itself the end, no end discerning,
Till all the universe be wrought
Into its far perfecting thought.
Then this mind of cloud and rue
Shall in eternal mind be new,
Mirror of God, pure and alone,
See and be seen, know and be known.''
No more of sorrow, the world's old distress,
Nor war of thronging spirits numberless,
Immortal ardours in brief days confined,
No more the languid fever of mankind
To--day I sing: 'tis no melodious pain
Cries in me: a full note, a rapturous strain
My voice adventures. Tremblest thou, my heart,
Because so eagerly the bliss would start
Up from thy fountains? O be near to me,
Thou that upliftest, thou that sett'st me free!
Out of the dim vault and the dying hues
Of Autumn, that for every wanderer strews
On silent paths the perishing pale leaves,
Fallen, like thoughts the heart no more believes,
From blackened branches to the frozen ground:
Out of the multitudinous dim sound
Of millions, to each other all unknown,
Warring together on the alien stone
Of streets unnumbered; where with drooping head
Prisoners pass, by unseen tyrants led
And with inaudible manacles oppressed,
Where he who listens cannot ever rest
For hearing in his heart the cry of men,
His brothers, from their lamentable den;
Out of all these I come to this sweet waste
Of woods and waters, and the odour taste
Of pines in sunshine hearkening to the roar
Of ocean on his solitary shore;
Lone beaches, where the yellow poppy blows
Unplucked, and where the wind for ever flows
Over the heathy desert; where the sea
Sparkles afar into infinity;
And the cleared spirit, tasting all things clean,
Rejoices, as if grief had never been;
Where thou, to whom the birds and the waves sing,
By some enchantment hast restored the Spring.
As when a dear hand touches on the hair
And thrills away the heaviness of care,
Till the world changes and through a window bright
The upleaping spirit gazes in delight,
Over my brain I feel a calming hand;
I look upon sweet earth and understand:
I hear the loud wind laughing through the trees;
The nimble air my limbs encourages,
And I upraise my songs afresh begun,
A palinode to the triumphant sun.
But thou, from whom into my soul to--day
Enters a quivering glory, ray on ray,
O by thine eyes a sister of the Spring,
Striking a core of sweetness in each thing
Thou look'st on, till it blossoms! By thy voice,
Soul of all souls created to rejoice!
Thou that with native overbrimming sense
Takest the light of Beauty's effluence,
As from the morning, in May's festal prime,
The young green leaves of the swift--budded lime;
That drawest all glad things, they know not why,
By some dear magnet of felicity;
And mournful spirits from their yoke of pain
Enchantest, till they lift their necks again,
And looking in thy bright and gentle eyes
To thee devote their dearest enterprise;
Thou whose brave heart could its own pain consume
And turn to deeper tenderness; in whom
Looks, thoughts, and motions, speech and mien persuade,
Immortal Joy hath his own mansion made:
How shall my too full heart, my stammering tongue,
Render thee half the song which thou hast sung
Into my being, by no web of words
Hindered, and fluid as the note of birds?
Or tell what magic of sweet air is shed
On me, so radiantly comforted?
I need each beam of the young sun; I need
Each draught of the pure wind, whereon to feed
My joy; each sparkle of the dew that shines
Under your branches, dark, sun--drunken pines,
All voices, motions of the unwearied sea;
But most, O tender spirit, I need thee.
For thou to this dumb beauty art the tone
It fain would render; all that is thine own
Of wayward and most human and most sweet
Mingling, until the music be complete:
Thine accents, O adorable and dear,
Command me to rejoice and have no fear;
Out of remembrance wash the soil of pain
And medicine me to my own self again.
Muse of my quickened verse, I am as he
Who, striving in the vast up--swollen sea,
Lifted a moment on a wave, descries
Unrolling suddenly the boundless skies.
Now is mere breathing joy; and all that strife
Confused and darkling, that we miscall life,
Is as a cloak, cast off in the warm spring.
Thus to possess the sunlight, is a thing
Worth more than our ambitions; more than ease
Wrung from the despot labour, the stale lees
Of youthful bliss: more than the plotting mind
Can ever compass, or the heart can find
In wisest books or multitude of friends.
For this it is that brings us to the lap
Of bounteous Earth, and fills us with her sap
And early laughter; melts the petty ends
Of daily striving into boundless air,
Revealing to the soul what it can dare:
Frees and enriches thousandfold; and steeps
This trembling self in universal deeps;
Lends it the patience of the eternal hills
To bear, no more in solitude, its ills,
And with all fervours of the world inspires
Its re--awakened and divine desires.
This is it that can find the deepest root
In us, and urge unto the fairest fruit,
Persuading the shut soul, that hid in night,
To crowd its blissful leaves into the light,
And shed, upon the lost, immortal seeds:
Kindles into a forge of fiery deeds
The smouldering heart, and closes the long wound
Of gentle spirits by rough time untuned;
And, O more precious even yet than this,
Empowers our weakness to support in bliss
The immensity of love, to love in vain
Yet still to hunger for that priceless pain;
To love without a bound, to set no end
To our long love, never aside to bend
In loving, but pour forth in living streams
Our hearts, as the full morn his quenchless beams.
He that this light hath tasted, asks no more
Dim questions answerless, that have so sore
Perplexed our thinking: in his bosom flow
Springs of all knowledge he hath need to know.
Nor vaunts he the secure philosophy
Self--throned, that would so easily untie
The knot of this hard world: and judging straight
Pronounce its essence and declare its fate.
How should the universal heart be known
To him that can so hardly read his own?
For where is he that can the inmost speak
Of his own being? Words are blind and weak,
Perplexing phantoms, dim as smoke to fire,
Mocking our tears, and torturing our desire,
When soul with soul would mingle: even Love
Never availed yet, howsoe'er he strove,
But, like the moon, to yield one radiant part
To the dark longing of the embracing heart.
And Earth, shall her vast secret open lie
Before the brief gaze of mortality?
Yet wayward and self--wise, no sooner stept
Into the world, and a few troubles wept,
A few unripe joys garnered, a few sins
Experienced, the impetuous mind begins
Its hasty wisdom; the world's griefs and joys
Holds in a balance, and essays to poise.
O persevering folly! never sleep
Must weigh the lids of that soul who would reap
This mystery; deserts vast must she explore,
Many far towns, many an unguessed shore,
And those deep regions search, more desolate far,
Where lives are herded, ignorant what they are,
And scarcely disentangling joy from woe;
Their being must she put on, if she would know
Humanity; most private bliss invade,
And with extremest terror be afraid,
Blank quiet and fierce rages apprehend.
Nor less into the leaping air ascend
Of flame--like spirits, and enamoured veins
Feel pulse in her; to exquisitest pains
Surrender. Then must her fleet impulse find
A way into the solitary mind
Of creatures, that in thousand thousand forms
Dumb life inspires and a brief sunshine warms;
And into the blind springs of sap and seed
Empty her passion, helpless with their need,
Torn with their hunger, thirsting with their thirst;
And deeper, whither eye hath never pierced,
Search out, amid the unsleeping stir that fills
Caves of old ocean and the rooted hills,
Whether indeed these streams of being flow
From inmost joy or a great core of woe.
Not until then is her wide errand sped,
Nor even so the supreme verdict said.
For far into the outer night must fare
The uncompleted spirit, that to dare
Has but begun: now her commissioned bark
She must adventure on an ocean dark,
Illumined only by the driving foam
Of stars imprisoned in the invisible home
Each of his circle; age be lost in age
Ere she accomplish half her pilgrimage;
Nor till the last of those uncounted spheres
Its incommunicable joys and tears
Yield up to her, shall she at length return
And homeward heavy with the message burn,
And to her wonder--waiting peers rehearse
The mighty meaning of the Universe.
O lovely Joy! and sweet Necessity,
That wakes, empowers, and impassions me,
It is enough that this illumined hour
I feel my own life open like a flower
Within me. Whether the worlds ache or no,
Wearing a bright mask over breasts of woe,
I have no need to learn; I only gaze
Into thine eyes, dear spirit, that dost upraise
My spirit; thy bright eyes, that never cease
To thrill me with soft moon--like beams of peace.
I look in them as into Earth's own eyes;
Faith instantly my longing fortifies;
And now I think no single day has hours,
Nor year has days, nor life has years, for powers
Of joy sufficing; for the things begun
And waiting to be seen and felt and done.
O give me all thy pains, let them be mine,
And keep alone beloved delight for thine!
I have a flame within me shall transmute
All to an ash, that shall bear flower and fruit,
While thou look'st on me, while from thee there flows
The invisible strength that in my spirit grows,
Until like Spring, the blissful prodigal,
It burns as it were capable of all
That ever could be reached, enjoyed, or won,
Or known, or suffered, underneath the sun.
But O why tarry we in language vain
And speak thus dimly of delight and pain?
Those human words have fallen out of sense,
Drunk up into intenser elements,
As colours perish into perfect light.
Now in the visitation of swift sight
That makes me for this happy moment wise
Beyond all wisdom of philosophies,
I feel even through this transitory flesh
The pang of my creation dart afresh;
The bonds of thought fall off, and I am free;
There is no longer grief nor joy for me,
But one infinity of life that flows
From the deep ocean--heart that no man knows
Out into these unnumbered semblances
Of earth and air, mountains and beasts and trees,
One timeless flood which drives the circling star
In furthest heaven, and whose weak waves we are,
Mortal and broken oft in sobbing foam,
Yet ever children of that central home,
Our Peace, that even as we flee, we find;
The Road that is before us and behind,
By which we travel from ourselves, in sleep
Or waking, toward a self more vast and deep.
O could my voice but sound to all the earth
And bring thy tidings, radiant One, to birth
In hearts of men! How would they cast away
The shroud that wraps them from the spacious day,
Burst the strong meshes they themselves have spun
Of idle cares, and step into the sun,
And see, and feel, and dedicate no more
Their travail to some far imagined shore,
Some dreamed--of goal beyond life's eager sphere,
For lo! at every hour the goal is here;
And as the dark woods tremble to the morn,
That shoots into their dewy depths forlorn
Along the wind's path bright victorious rays,
And in all branches the birds lift their praise,
So should they sing, rejoicing to be free,
As I, belovèd Muse, rejoice in thee.
I found my Love among the fern. She slept.
My shadow stole across her, as I stept
More lightly and slowly, seeing her pillowed so
In the short--turfed and shelving green hollow
Upon a cushion of wild thyme, amid
Tall bracken--tufts that, roughly luminous, hid
Her hair in amber shadow. Then I stopped.
The light was in the West: the wind had dropped;
A burning fragrance breathed out of the ground,
And the sea--murmur rose remote around.
But my Love slept. My very heart was singing
With the sweet swarm of winged thoughts it was bringing:
And she lay there, with the just heaving breast,
So still. As a lark drops down to its nest,
I sank beside her, waiting for those eyes
To complete earth with light that nowhere lies
But in their depths for me, and carry home
The flight of my full spirit. I had come
From wandering wide beaches far beneath
This airy height of summer--scented heath.
I was alone, and the shore solitary,
And the sea glittered infinite and starry
As on the sands I paced, that dazzling wet
Shone round, until the tumbled rocks they met
At the gaunt cliff's root; silvery runnels, fed
From oozy levels draining to their bed,
Wound flashing between smoothly furrowed slabs
Which the sky coloured; there the youngling crabs
Had scrawled a trail, and weeds, dull--rose and green,
Lay by their shadows, where old foam had been,
Crusted with shells. A mist of finest spray
Blew from the western glory, and in the bay
The ever--streaming surges gleamed and roared
Like a rejoicing Power for ever poured
For the mere splendour of its motion: salt
The air came to the nostril; and the vault
Of heaven had burnt its colours into one
Unfathomable clearness, that the sun
Was soul of, as it journeyed down the West
And in the leaping waters made each crest
A moment of live fire. I breathed the immense
And shining silence. It was to my sense
Like youth, that's all horizon, and misgives
Nothing, and in the unbounded moment lives,
And names not hope yet among things endured
And unamended, being so assured
Of its desire and the long day, and so
Ignorant of that swift Night, saying No.
Ah, why should peace and liberty most bring
Into the heart that loves them most the sting
Of Time's oppression, and the thwarting thorns,
The loss, the want, the many clouded morns?
O for deliverance! To untwist the bond
Of circumstance; to breathe the blest Beyond
Where we would be; to incarnate clean and true
All we were born and dedicated to!
O Love, how often have we shared that sigh!
To me beside that boundless sea and sky
Intolerably came my briefness; all
The undone things. Why into hearts so small
Were crammed these hungering immensities,
Thrust each day back to a prison that denies
Their native satisfaction? I cast me down
On a great slope of rock that, ribbed and brown,
Was cloven at the top; and in between
The hollowed ledges I could lightly lean
And see the deep cup of a pool; it held
Its limpid leaving of the surge that swelled,
A tide since, over that sea--buried reef.
A round pool, deeply clear beyond belief,
Rough with minute white shells about its rim,
Its crystal in the shadow gleamed how dim
And small! while in my eye the homeless main,
Its brine was of, a splendid restless plain
Of water, spread a path for any keel
To take, the round world over, and to feel
Pressures of every wind, and haven far
Where it should choose, mirroring mast and spar
In sultry smooth lagoon, or under pines
Snow--plumed on iron fiord, or where lines
Of ships at a famed port with traffic hum
And chimes of foreign bells to sailors come,
And strange towers over crowded wharfs look high.
--Ah! such a drop of casual life was I,
At evening left: my simple, scanted, raw
Experience but the sipping of a straw
Snatched from me soon! I lifted up my gaze
Into the west and the spray--misted blaze
Where the sun gloried, and his glittering track
Allured me on and on. Then I looked back.
All was changed. Something had transfigured each
Of those hard cliffs that thrust into the beach
Their bouldered ramparts. Every narrow seam
Brimmed with the opposite light, and the warm gleam
Found out small clusters of sea--pink, and many
A samphire--tuft in its uneven cranny,
And bloomed a burning orange on the stain
Of lichen, and dissembled rosy grain
On the rock's blackness. At the summit showed
A gemmy green, where the grass patches glowed
Between those jutting crags. The air was hush;
And the shore quivered with a phantom flush
Of molten colours on far--shining sand.
All was as warm to sight as to the hand,
Distinct yet insubstantial, as if what
The eye saw had been created by a thought
Intenser than its vision. Memory played
A music in the mind, and Time delayed
To whisper names forgotten; I saw no more
The sculpture of those rocks, that vivid shore;
But far--off hours arose before me there
Beautiful in a bright unearthly air.
Memory touched her stops, and one by one
They came, each with its own shadow and sun
And its peculiar perfume: each a part
Of the quick blood and pulsing of my heart.
I carried riches; I was as a king,
Clothed in a more than royal apparelling,
Because of glories in the mind, and light
In eyes I knew, and the unended flight
Of thought, and friendship warmer than the sun,
And dateless joy, and hope shared, and things done
With all the soul's strength, and still precious pain.
Youth, O sweet, careless Youth, flooding the vein
With easy blood, what time the body knows
Scarce that it is, so brimmingly life glows
Within it, and its motions are like words
Born happy on the lips, and like the birds
On April--blossomed boughs rich fancies throng
The mind's exuberance and spill in song,
I think my heart back into all the bloom
And feel it fresh. As one that enters home,
I am there: the shyness, and the secret flame
Of ecstasy that knew not any name,
The wild heart--eating fevers, the young tears,
The absorbed soul, the trouble, and the fears
Wide as the night, the joy without a thought
Meeting the morning,--Time has never taught
My heart to lose them. Still I smell that rose
Of so inscrutable sweetness; and still glows
The glory of the wonder when I first
Heard the enchanted poets, and they burst
In song upon my spirit, as if before
No one had ever passed that magic door,
But for me, first in all the world, they sang.
Sweetest of all things, Youth, sweet in the pang
As in the pleasure, you are in me yet,
Changed as the grape to wine: could I forget,
Then were this hand dust. In those yesterdays
Memory happy and familiar strays,
Exploring hours that, long in shadow lain,
Come effortlessly all distinct again,
As in my light boat I would track the banks
Of narrow streams that rippled past the ranks
Of yellow--flowered reeds, and knew not where
They led me, for no human sound was there,
But the shy wings were near me, and I to them,
And the wild earth was round me as in a dream
And I was melted into it. I can hear,
Lost in the green, bright silence, where I steer
Beneath gold shadows wavering on my arm
The water saying over its low charm
Among the reeds, and, dreading to disturb
The mirror of the blossomed willow--herb,
Drink it into my heart. O idle hours,
Floating with motion like the summer towers
Of cloud in the blue noon, I have not drained
Your fullness yet, for all that care has rained
Upon defeated days of dark sundown,
Like burial of all beauty and all renown,
When the spirit sits within its fortalice
And watches mute. One simple, passionate kiss
Can alter earth for ever. Out of what
Imagination, or what far forethought
Of Time, came Love in beauty new and strange
With eyes of light, my earth and sky to change
And bring me vision of a promised land,
As if long--sunken centuries had planned
The meeting of our lips? From far we came
To one another, ere we had a name.
Wonderful shape, white ecstasy, the cup
That God with living wine has so filled up!
O body made like music, like a word
Syllabled in spontaneous accord;
Quick--sensed with apprehension; capable
Of extreme joy, of pangs far--piercing; full
Of divine wants, like a wave moving through
The passionate and transparent soul of you;
O mystery and power, charged with unknown
Futurities; a lovely flame that's blown
In the wind of life, and sister'd to all fire
That has in it the peril of all desire;
Dearer than breath, what are you made of, whence
Come you? I know not; the eluded sense
Only replies, ``To name her is to tell
The very name of Love.'' It is to spell
A language more profound than tongue can use,
Written in the heart's blood of the world; to lose
All that is worth the losing, and to trust
In spite of withered leaf and charnel dust.
Who knows his own beginning? Hour from hour
Is born; in secret buds, and breaks to flower
Within us. Nothing we have ever been,
Nothing we have endured, nothing we have seen,--
Ay, and before we came into this light,
Were sacrificial hopes, and exquisite
Fears, and the jealous patience of the womb,
And throes of self--consuming martyrdom,
Imprinted on the fibre of our flesh,--
Nothing is ended, but is made afresh
Into a subtler potency; the eyes
See a more wondrous earth, the senses prize
More, its more pregnant meaning; and we go
To enrich a world beyond us, overflow
Into a mind of what thoughts who can tell?
O Love, we draw from an unfathomed well.
Where are the June nights that made heaven a whole
Blue jewel, throbbing through the very soul?
Where is the dizzying bloom and the perfume--
Earth--ecstasy, sighed up to starry gloom,
That in the touching lips' ineffable
Communion, was a spirit and a spell,
As if we had found within ourselves a being
More infinite than any shown to seeing?
Where is the beauty that stole thought away
And moved to tears some one remembered day?
Where is the laughter some sweet chance would start,
To leave its summer warmth about the heart?
Where are the places we shall see no more?
Are they not powers to haunt us at the core
Of feeling, and evoke the eternal Now,
Like music, out of nothing? Nay, I vow,
Most perishable, most immortal tastes;
And the frail flame, that touches us and hastes
Into the dark, endures more than the build
Of proudest fortress. We are found and filled;
And it suffices. For we pass among
Grandeurs, and from a grandeur we are sprung,
Marvellous in our destiny, and know
Man is most man meeting a giant foe,
Whether overcoming or defeated. We,
Who hear, like moving rumour of the sea
And march of ocean waves, the human sound
About us, filled with meaning more profound;
Who know what hearts beat by us, and have shared
In all the mighty martyr names have dared;
Who feel all earth beneath the stars, the race
Of rivers, and the mountains in their place,
Faculties of our being; and have a mind
Dyed in the ardent story of our kind;
We in our briefness, in our storm and ache,
Our loves magnificent in hearts that break,
We, all our bonds and bounds exceeding, ay,
Burning a loftier flame because we die,
We at Time's outpost, we the thrust spear--head
Against the opposing darkness of the dead,
We are the world's adventure! We speed on,
Stay not, but westward travel with the sun,
Westward into the splendour that takes all,
And carry far into the great light's fall
That infinite memory of the world we bear
Within our spirits, burning and aware.
Wake, Love, awake!--Her eyes shone into mine
That moment. In the air was light divine,
Sinking and yet suspended still, to hold
Rocks, ocean, heaven, within one bath of gold.
But in the soul that met me from those eyes,
Impassioning the beauty of the skies,
Was my completion. Earth, as newly made
Ev'n to the smallest shape of green grass--blade,
Lived; and the thrilled, bright silence sang to me;
For in the hush I heard the boundless sea.
Out of the Forest into a terrible splendour
Of noon, the pinnacles of the temple--portals,
Stone Faces, immense in carven ruin
Above the trembling of giant trees emerge.
Stone Faces, of secret and eternal smile,
Ruined Faces, perilously towering
Over the waving of the wilderness, a fourfold
Gaze, opposing the slow strength of Time;
Visible afar, stony serenity, crown
Of the builders' labour of imagination,
Last and loftiest thought of a little dust,
That once, robed in authority, moved commanding,
When overseeing his busy--handed companies
Of workmen, and elephants hoisting obedient,
A King magnificent, satiate of victory,
Builded his vision of the eternal Peace;
Have you not heard, alone in your abandonment
Since the last echoing vibrations vanished
Of tremulous fame diminishing, have you not
'Mid the resplendent silence of the noon
Heard the cry of the little seed in the earth
Prisoned and crying to the mighty Sun in heaven
With his strong beams to find and to deliver her?
Through million miles of air is heard her cry;
The cry of Desire, that aches with a blind throbbing,
Ignorant of all but the aching of its desire,
Desire inappeasable, cruel as a desert thirst,
Desire born of desire, breeding desire?
In lust of light it springs from the little seed,
Climbing out of the hot suffocation of darkness,
Multiplying, bursting, swelling to burst afresh,
Writhing and wrestling to mount into the light.
And up from the furnaces of its own corruption
As with a trample of triumph, to the imperious
Sting of the Sun and the prodigally spending
Wanton rain, surges the sap in answer.
As if it were red blood boiling in the suddenness
Of panther's sinewy and ungovernable spring;
As if it were an invisible conflagration
Glorying up into a momentary splendour,
The sap presses, stronger than spirting fountains,
Reasonless, wild as the doubled strength of madmen;
Invisible and unheard, it races into
The boughs, and the boughs stream out into the leaves.
Roots thrust downward into the black heat of earth;
Boughs descend, thicken, and root themselves afresh;
The builded fabric is seized and is enfolded
In the tightening of those fibres, passive as a victim.
Supplanting the jamb, a root upholds the lintel;
Cracking the rounded column and delicately--carved
Frieze, with slow muscle the serpent--folds
Fasten increasing, crush or twist awry;
Invented order and scruple of willed proportion,
The strong square, all the lineaments of reason,
Lost in the green extravagance, the strangling
Young embraces of a pitiless desire.
Vast blocks, upheaved as by an elephant's
Shouldering force, are incredibly suspended
By vast stems, that swelling slow like pythons
Capture a purchase for their upward towering.
The ancient meditation of the Gods is prisoned
As in the clasp of heavy and voluptuous arms.
The still presence of Peace is broken in fragments:
Ruined and fabulous is the eternal smile.
The Stone Faces look from a lost battle
Over the ascending wilderness, the nearing
Waves of Time re--conquering Eternity,
As a beaten rock left on a crumbling strand.
Images people the shadows and throng the sun--soaked
Porches; demon forms, and the armed striding
Of warriors; frowns of scorn and limbs of anger;
And 'mid their conflict, shapes of young delight.
Ah, Heavenly Dancer, motioned by an ecstasy
Breathed into stone, O time--delivered vision,
Image of celestial joy everlasting
Sung by the body to the Spirit's flute!
Now like a shipwreckt remnant of security
Drifted to shore by the negligent ocean--streams,
Thou hidest, shaped into the image of humanity,
As lips hide speech, the Spirit's profound desire.
In a trance the eye can behold the hands that formed thee,
Supple hands, chiselling the stone's resistance
To a thought in the fingers' pressure and smooth relentings
Transfiguring ancient stone to breathing mind
Like as the distant gaze and sky--divining
Will of the helmsman, with touches light as breath
Shape the speed of a winged keel to union
With the firm wind's invisible inspiration.
The hand traces; the blood thinks and pauses;
Fingers marry and divide; perfecting motions,
Delicately measuring, shape into significance
Dreams: But hands have purpose, these have none,
These strong fibres, strong as the whole body
Of a wrestler locked in an obstinate tenacity
Of effort, clutch of innumerable tendrils,
Never relaxing their terrible embrace!
Live, Live! they cry, as they mount exuberant--
Whither? O whither the seething, savage ardour
Craving, and riotous in its own destruction?
Answers only the silence of the Sun.
The silence of the Sun possesses the still cranny.
Smooth lizards flicker across the abraded wall.
High amid molten splendour in topmost trees
The indolent gibbon swings from branch to branch;
Song of birds, rippling an airy and strange chime,
And shrilled unceasing chorus of cicalas
Crown the ruined history of proud peoples.
The Forest burns in the crucible of the Sun.
Out of the moulder of Time and great oblivion
Shines the remoteness of legendary majesties,
Willed to remain high over farthest sundown,
Now in a memory melting insubstantial.
Solomon the King built a temple in Jerusalem
For the glory of the Lord to inhabit for eternity.
Lebanon from her forests gave him cedar and cypress;
These became pillar and beam and coffered ceiling
Carved with lily and gourd and palm and pomegranate;
And all overlaid was the house within with gold.
Stone was the foundation; in the midmost was the oracle:
There Solomon ascended to the secrecy of the Lord.
It was told to Solomon: There is a queen in Saba,
In Saba of sweet valleys, of spices and precious stones.
Young she is and comely; and she seeks after wisdom.
Great pity it is that she worshippeth the Sun.
Balkis the queen had grave men for her counsellors,
Warriors stood before her to execute her bidding.
She was wise in her body's secret wisdom of beauty:
But none knew her wisdom; it flowed not from her lips.
It was told in the ears of Balkis: Solomon the King
Is wiser than all men, even the sages of Egypt.
Also he has riches beyond computation;
Armies he has and navies, and seven hundred wives.
Learned is he in the tongues of beast and bird,
In the hearts of the fishes and of all creeping things.
And Balkis was seized with a marvelling curiosity:
I will see this Solomon, said Balkis, and arose,
And with heavy--laden camels she journeyed to Jerusalem.
And Solomon accepted her Arabian spice: he showed her
The splendour of his house, his servants and all his horsemen,
And the temple founded to be the Lord's for ever.
Solomon and Balkis sat upon lofty thrones
Together; the bright birds of the air thronged round them,
Many--coloured plumage; and the King knew their voices,
The lion in the desert also he heard afar.
Solomon spoke not of his own magnificence
And the things he had shown her, surpassing belief and rumour,
Till her heart was faint; he had shown her all these marvels,
And not a question asked he had not answered.
But he spoke of the Temple wherein he had newly housed
The glory of the invisible God, creator
Of all men, even of Solomon and his wisdom;
The temple built to endure for everlasting.
Then were they silent. Evening descended on them;
And the low sun smote that high place in Jerusalem
Over against all the splendour of the Temple
That seemed eternity flaming before their eyes.
In the gaze of Solomon was a great contentment
With all he had willed and all he had performed.
But still in the unreasonable memory of Balkis
Was the cry of the seed to the glory of the Sun.
Lips imperious, bosom superb! Eyes
Smiling with all persuasion to all adventure!
Veins that leap in the lightning of ecstasy! Spirit
Of splendour and storm, peril of Caesar and sage!
Whether to charm the eagle mind from form its solitude
And wondrously to enter the secret and strange places
Of wisdom, passionately importuning that ultimate
Possession, satiate of all else beside;
Or with subtle tendrils of pleasure serpentining
About the strength of the stony will, and weaving
Nets invisible, merciless, inescapable,
Softly to master the mastery of the strong;
Or stung by profounder hunger of satisfaction,
Incarnate Flame, to tower a rapturous moment
Over an empire fallen in ashes, exulting
To vanish in legend, having destroyed a world;
From what seed sown in the ignorant immensity
Of existence, ascend you into agonies and furies,
Not joy, not pain, but necessity of deliverance,
To enchant, to burn into victory and perish?
These dead doorways, black squares of emptiness,
Framed in vivid stone that scorches the hand
And dazzles the sight, are not so hollow
As the sockets that housed the brilliance of your eyes;
And this palsy of twisted and whitened fibre,
Dangling inert athwart the interior blackness,
Is not so wasted as the suppleness of arms
Moulded to be chains about the necks of conquerors.
All that interior triumph of the throbbing heart
Throbbing through wall and pillar and through the hardness
Of men, dissolving fortresses, is quieter
Than dust in the corner; earth from you has peace.
O Stone Faces, was it a far--off vision
Of Peace that the builder imagined when he shaped you,
That shadowy King, to endure beyond his memory
And awe with eternal mask the children of Time?
Surely in his heart was a vision of Life the Destroyer
Dancing the dance of Desire, the all--creating
All--destroying; Power from Power proceeding,
Or Death from Death issuing, who shall know,
Or who distinguish the inconceivable riches
From the inconceivable ruin, the victory crowned with
Annihilation? Afraid of his own vision,
He lent it human lineaments of Peace.
Here in the forest, under a roof of mats,
Cross--legged sitting, with a bowl beside him,
Waited the Hermit in his still persistence,
Motionless contemplating the eternal motion.
Come back, thou Hermit, here in the fierce forest
To thine own station--whether from a handful
Of dust remoulded, or from the wandered worlds
Of air, an essence into Time resumed!
Still as a flame is still in a windless place,
Seeking thy far and invisible affinity,
I see thee, careless of emperors and captains
As of the tree--tops towering above thee;
Hearing not clash of arms, nor the resounding
Triumph, nor cry of the vanquished, but with senses
Unfeasted, sure of that foreknown subsiding
Into the silence where thy thought is native.
Round thy ribs slowly fasten the serpent--roots;
Over thee meshes that insatiate voracity
As with mouths thirsting for life's fierce savour,
As with limbs lusting for the pleasures of the Sun.
Still art thou there, like the emptiness a whirlpool
Furiously encompasses, O indestructible
Emptiness! Only the communion of silence
Fills thee, and light that the evening dims not.
O naked Hermit, seated in thy mystery
Of patience, gazing down the ruin of Time,
Thou to the ravaging forest that rejoices
To teem and perish, perish and teem again,
Thou art no more than a fallen fragment of stone
Only to be seized by the implacable fibres,
Lifeless, without share in the green upsurging
That streams about thee and climbs above thy head.
But to thee, dipt into a central stillness,
All this enormity of violent abundance,
All the strength of the serpent--roots, and the wild
Energy leaping into boughs and leaves,
Are but obstructing shadow and apparition,
Vapours ascending from vain desires of Time,
Drawn as a mist is drawn from the wandering rivers,
The stream into the cloud, and the cloud into the stream.
But from what desire, O Solitary, dost thou come?
From what seed sown in the abysses of the stars
Was the strong engendering of the passion of thy stillness,
Desire surpassing all the desires of mortals,
Secret in the anchored body's immense surrender,
A strange, transforming vision, a strange excess,
Prisoned in the heart's beat, and out of its prison
Crying to the glory of the Universal Sun?