OFT in the blazing summer noon,
And oft beneath the frosty moon,
When earth and air were hushed and still,
And absolute silence seemed to fill
The farthest border-lands of space,
I loved in childish thought to trace
Glimpses of change, which might transform
The voiceless calm to furious storm ;
Broke the dull spell, which comes to bind
In after-years the sluggish mind ;
And pictured, borne on fancy's wings,
The end of all created things.
Then have I seen with dreaming eye,
The blue depths of the vaulted sky
Rent without noise ; and in their stead
A wonder-world of fancy spread,
A golden city, with domes and spires,
Lit by a strange sun's mystic fires.
Portals of dazzling chrysolite,
Long colonnades of purest white ;
Streets paved with gold and jewels rare ;
And higher, in the ambient air,
A shining Presence undefined :
Swift seraphs stooping swift as wind
From pole to pole, and that vast throng
Which peopled Dante's world of song ;
The last great inquest which shall close
The tale of human joys and woes ;
The dreadful Judge, the opening tomb,
And all the mystery of doom.
Then woke to find the vision vain,
And sun or moon shine calm again.
No longer, save in memory's glass,
These vanished visions come and pass ;
The clearer light of fuller day
Has chased these earlier dreams away.
Faith's eye grows dim with too much light,
And fancy flies our clearer sight.
But shall we mourn her day is o'er,
That these rapt visions come no more ?
Nay ; knowledge has its splendours too,
Brighter than Fancy's brightest hue.
I gaze now on the heavens, and see
How, midst their vast immensity,
By cosmic laws the planets roll,
Sped onwards by a central soul ;
How farther still, and still more far,
World beyond world, star beyond star,
So many, and so far, that speech
And thought must fail the sum to reach.
This universe of nature teems
With things more strange than fancy's dreams ;
And so at length, with clearer eye,
Soar beyond childhood's painted sky,
Up to the Lord of great and small,
Not onewhere, but pervading all :
Who made the music of the spheres,
And yet inclines an ear that hears
The faintest prayer, the humblest sigh;
The strong man's groan, the childish cry;
Who guides the stars, yet without whom
No humblest floweret comes to bloom,
No lowliest creature comes to birth,
No dead leaf flutters to the earth :
Who breathed into our souls the breath,
Which neither time nor change nor death,
Nor hurtling suns at random hurled
And dashed together, world on world,
Can ever kill or quench, till He
Bends down, and bids them not to be.