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The Poems of William Watson by William Watson

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Freezes us hopeless when we enter in.

* * * * *

KEATS

He dwelt with the bright gods of elder time,
On earth and in their cloudy haunts above.
He loved them: and in recompense sublime,
The gods, alas! gave him their fatal love.

* * * * *

AFTER READING "TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT"

Your Marlowe's page I close, my Shakspere's ope.
How welcome--after gong and cymbal's din--
The continuity, the long slow slope
And vast curves of the gradual violin!

* * * * *

SHELLEY AND HARRIET WESTBROOK

A star look'd down from heaven and loved a flower
Grown in earth's garden--loved it for an hour:

Let eyes that trace his orbit in the spheres
Refuse not, to a ruin'd rosebud, tears.

* * * * *

THE PLAY OF "KING LEAR"

Here Love the slain with Love the slayer lies;
Deep drown'd are both in the same sunless pool.
Up from its depths that mirror thundering skies
Bubbles the wan mirth of the mirthless Fool.

* * * *

TO A POET

Time, the extortioner, from richest beauty
Takes heavy toll and wrings rapacious duty.
Austere of feature if thou carve thy rhyme,
Perchance 'twill pay the lesser tax to Time.

* * * * *

THE YEAR'S MINSTRELSY

Spring, the low prelude of a lordlier song:
Summer, a music without hint of death:
Autumn, a cadence lingeringly long:
Winter, a pause;--the Minstrel-Year takes breath.

* * * * *

THE RUINED ABBEY

Flower fondled, clasp'd in ivy's close caress,
It seems allied with Nature, yet apart:--
Of wood's and wave's insensate loveliness
The glad, sad, tranquil, passionate, human heart.

* * * * *

MICHELANGELO'S "MOSES"

The captain's might, and mystery of the seer--
Remoteness of Jehovah's colloquist,
Nearness of man's heaven-advocate--are here:
Alone Mount Nebo's harsh foreshadow is miss'd.

* * * * *

THE ALPS

Adieu, white brows of Europe! sovereign brows,
That wear the sunset for a golden tiar.
With me in memory shall your phantoms house
For ever, whiter than yourselves, and higher.

* * * * *

THE CATHEDRAL SPIRE

It soars like hearts of hapless men who dare
To sue for gifts the gods refuse to allot;
Who climb for ever toward they know not where,
Baffled for ever by they know not what.

* * * * *

AN EPITAPH

His friends he loved. His fellest earthly foes--
Cats--I believe he did but feign to hate.
My hand will miss the insinuated nose,
Mine eyes the tail that wagg'd contempt at Fate.

* * * * *

THE METROPOLITAN UNDERGROUND RAILWAY

Here were a goodly place wherein to die;--
Grown latterly to sudden change averse,
All violent contrasts fain avoid would I
On passing from this world into a worse.

* * * * *

TO A SEABIRD

Fain would I have thee barter fates with me,--
Lone loiterer where the shells like jewels be,
Hung on the fringe and frayed hem of the sea.
But no,--'twere cruel, wild-wing'd Bliss! to thee.

* * * * *

ON DUeRER'S _MELENCOLIA_

What holds her fixed far eyes nor lets them range?
Not the strange sea, strange earth, or heav'n more strange;
But her own phantom dwarfing these great three,
More strange than all, more old than heav'n, earth, sea.

* * * * *

TANTALUS

He wooes for ever, with foil'd lips of drouth,
The wave that wearies not to mock his mouth.
'Tis Lethe's; they alone that tide have quaff'd
Who never thirsted for the oblivious draught.

* * * * *

A MAIDEN'S EPITAPH

She dwelt among us till the flowers, 'tis said,
Grew jealous of her: with precipitate feet,
As loth to wrong them unawares, she fled.
Earth is less fragrant now, and heaven more sweet.

WORDSWORTH'S GRAVE

TO JAMES BROMLEY

WITH "WORDSWORTH'S GRAVE"

Ere vandal lords with lust of gold accurst
Deface each hallowed hillside we revere--
Ere cities in their million-throated thirst
Menace each sacred mere--
Let us give thanks because one nook hath been
Unflooded yet by desecration's wave,
The little churchyard in the valley green
That holds our Wordsworth's grave.

'Twas there I plucked these elegiac blooms,
There where he rests 'mid comrades fit and few,
And thence I bring this growth of classic tombs,
An offering, friend, to you--
You who have loved like me his simple themes,
Loved his sincere large accent nobly plain,
And loved the land whose mountains and whose streams
Are lovelier for his strain.

It may be that his manly chant, beside
More dainty numbers, seems a rustic tune;
It may be, thought has broadened since he died
Upon the century's noon;
It may be that we can no longer share
The faith which from his fathers he received;
It may be that our doom is to despair
Where he with joy believed;--

Enough that there is none since risen who sings
A song so gotten of the immediate soul,
So instant from the vital fount of things
Which is our source and goal;
And though at touch of later hands there float
More artful tones than from his lyre he drew,
Ages may pass ere trills another note
So sweet, so great, so true.

WORDSWORTH'S GRAVE

I

The old rude church, with bare, bald tower, is here;
Beneath its shadow high-born Rotha flows;
Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near,
And with cool murmur lulling his repose

Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near.
His hills, his lakes, his streams are with him yet.
Surely the heart that read her own heart clear
Nature forgets not soon: 'tis we forget.

We that with vagrant soul his fixity
Have slighted; faithless, done his deep faith wrong;
Left him for poorer loves, and bowed the knee
To misbegotten strange new gods of song.

Yet, led by hollow ghost or beckoning elf
Far from her homestead to the desert bourn,
The vagrant soul returning to herself
Wearily wise, must needs to him return.

To him and to the powers that with him dwell:--
Inflowings that divulged not whence they came;
And that secluded spirit unknowable,
The mystery we make darker with a name;

The Somewhat which we name but cannot know,
Ev'n as we name a star and only see
His quenchless flashings forth, which ever show
And ever hide him, and which are not he.

II

Poet who sleepest by this wandering wave!
When thou wast born, what birth-gift hadst thou then?
To thee what wealth was that the Immortals gave,
The wealth thou gavest in thy turn to men?

Not Milton's keen, translunar music thine;
Not Shakespeare's cloudless, boundless human view;
Not Shelley's flush of rose on peaks divine;
Nor yet the wizard twilight Coleridge knew.

What hadst thou that could make so large amends
For all thou hadst not and thy peers possessed,
Motion and fire, swift means to radiant ends?--
Thou hadst, for weary feet, the gift of rest.

From Shelley's dazzling glow or thunderous haze,
From Byron's tempest-anger, tempest-mirth,
Men turned to thee and found--not blast and blaze,
Tumult of tottering heavens, but peace on earth,

Nor peace that grows by Lethe, scentless flower,
There in white languors to decline and cease;
But peace whose names are also rapture, power,
Clear sight, and love: for these are parts of peace.

III

I hear it vouched the Muse is with us still;--
If less divinely frenzied than of yore,
In lieu of feelings she has wondrous skill
To simulate emotion felt no more.

Not such the authentic Presence pure, that made
This valley vocal in the great days gone!--
In _his_ great days, while yet the spring-time played
About him, and the mighty morning shone.

No word-mosaic artificer, he sang
A lofty song of lowly weal and dole.
Right from the heart, right to the heart it sprang,
Or from the soul leapt instant to the soul.

He felt the charm of childhood, grace of youth,
Grandeur of age, insisting to be sung.
The impassioned argument was simple truth
Half-wondering at its own melodious tongue.

Impassioned? ay, to the song's ecstatic core!
But far removed were clangour, storm and feud;
For plenteous health was his, exceeding store
Of joy, and an impassioned quietude.

IV

A hundred years ere he to manhood came,
Song from celestial heights had wandered down,
Put off her robe of sunlight, dew and flame,
And donned a modish dress to charm the Town.

Thenceforth she but festooned the porch of things;
Apt at life's lore, incurious what life meant.
Dextrous of hand, she struck her lute's few strings;
Ignobly perfect, barrenly content.

Unflushed with ardour and unblanched with awe,
Her lips in profitless derision curled,
She saw with dull emotion--if she saw--
The vision of the glory of the world.

The human masque she watched, with dreamless eyes
In whose clear shallows lurked no trembling shade:
The stars, unkenned by her, might set and rise,
Unmarked by her, the daisies bloom and fade.

The age grew sated with her sterile wit.
Herself waxed weary on her loveless throne.
Men felt life's tide, the sweep and surge of it,
And craved a living voice, a natural tone.

For none the less, though song was but half true,
The world lay common, one abounding theme.
Man joyed and wept, and fate was ever new,
And love was sweet, life real, death no dream.

In sad stern verse the rugged scholar-sage
Bemoaned his toil unvalued, youth uncheered.
His numbers wore the vesture of the age,
But, 'neath it beating, the great heart was heard.

From dewy pastures, uplands sweet with thyme,
A virgin breeze freshened the jaded day.
It wafted Collins' lonely vesper-chime,
It breathed abroad the frugal note of Gray.

It fluttered here and there, nor swept in vain
The dusty haunts where futile echoes dwell,--
Then, in a cadence soft as summer rain,
And sad from Auburn voiceless, drooped and fell.

It drooped and fell, and one 'neath northern skies,
With southern heart, who tilled his father's field,
Found Poesy a-dying, bade her rise
And touch quick nature's hem and go forth healed.

On life's broad plain the ploughman's conquering share
Upturned the fallow lands of truth anew,
And o'er the formal garden's trim parterre
The peasant's team a ruthless furrow drew.

Bright was his going forth, but clouds ere long
Whelmed him; in gloom his radiance set, and those
Twin morning stars of the new century's song,
Those morning stars that sang together, rose.

In elvish speech the _Dreamer_ told his tale
Of marvellous oceans swept by fateful wings.--
The _Seer_ strayed not from earth's human pale,
But the mysterious face of common things

He mirrored as the moon in Rydal Mere
Is mirrored, when the breathless night hangs blue:
Strangely remote she seems and wondrous near,
And by some nameless difference born anew.

V

Peace--peace--and rest! Ah, how the lyre is loth,
Or powerless now, to give what all men seek!
Either it deadens with ignoble sloth
Or deafens with shrill tumult, loudly weak.

Where is the singer whose large notes and clear
Can heal and arm and plenish and sustain?
Lo, one with empty music floods the ear,
And one, the heart refreshing, tires the brain.

And idly tuneful, the loquacious throng
Flutter and twitter, prodigal of time,
And little masters make a toy of song
Till grave men weary of the sound of rhyme.

And some go prankt in faded antique dress,
Abhorring to be hale and glad and free;
And some parade a conscious naturalness,
The scholar's not the child's simplicity.

Enough;--and wisest who from words forbear.
The kindly river rails not as it glides;
And suave and charitable, the winning air
Chides not at all, or only him who chides.

VI

Nature! we storm thine ear with choric notes.
Thou answerest through the calm great nights and days,
"Laud me who will: not tuneless are your throats;
Yet if ye paused I should not miss the praise."

We falter, half-rebuked, and sing again.
We chant thy desertness and haggard gloom,
Or with thy splendid wrath inflate the strain,
Or touch it with thy colour and perfume.

One, his melodious blood aflame for thee,
Wooed with fierce lust, his hot heart world-defiled.
One, with the upward eye of infancy,
Looked in thy face, and felt himself thy child.

Thee he approached without distrust or dread--
Beheld thee throned, an awful queen, above--
Climbed to thy lap and merely laid his head
Against thy warm wild heart of mother-love.

He heard that vast heart beating--thou didst press
Thy child so close, and lov'dst him unaware.
Thy beauty gladdened him; yet he scarce less
Had loved thee, had he never found thee fair!

For thou wast not as legendary lands
To which with curious eyes and ears we roam.
Nor wast thou as a fane mid solemn sands,
Where palmers halt at evening. Thou wast home.

And here, at home, still bides he; but he sleeps;
Not to be wakened even at thy word;
Though we, vague dreamers, dream he somewhere keeps
An ear still open to thy voice still heard,--

Thy voice, as heretofore, about him blown,
For ever blown about his silence now;
Thy voice, though deeper, yet so like his own
That almost, when he sang, we deemed 'twas thou!

VII

Behind Helm Crag and Silver Howe the sheen
Of the retreating day is less and less.
Soon will the lordlier summits, here unseen,
Gather the night about their nakedness.

The half-heard bleat of sheep comes from the hill,
Faint sounds of childish play are in the air.
The river murmurs past. All else is still.
The very graves seem stiller than they were.

Afar though nation be on nation hurled,
And life with toil and ancient pain depressed,
Here one may scarce believe the whole wide world
Is not at peace, and all man's heart at rest.

Rest! 'twas the gift _he_ gave; and peace! the shade
_He_ spread, for spirits fevered with the sun.
To him his bounties are come back--here laid
In rest, in peace, his labour nobly done.

LACHRYMAE MUSARUM
AND
OTHER POEMS

TO
RICHARD HOLT HUTTON
AND
MEREDITH TOWNSEND

WITH GRATITUDE

LACHRYMAE MUSARUM

(6TH OCTOBER 1892)

Low, like another's, lies the laurelled head:
The life that seemed a perfect song is o'er:
Carry the last great bard to his last bed.
Land that he loved, thy noblest voice is mute.
Land that he loved, that loved him! nevermore
Meadow of thine, smooth lawn or wild sea-shore,
Gardens of odorous bloom and tremulous fruit,
Or woodlands old, like Druid couches spread,
The master's feet shall tread.
Death's little rift hath rent the faultless lute:
The singer of undying songs is dead.

Lo, in this season pensive-hued and grave,
While fades and falls the doomed, reluctant leaf
From withered Earth's fantastic coronal,
With wandering sighs of forest and of wave
Mingles the murmur of a people's grief
For him whose leaf shall fade not, neither fall.
He hath fared forth, beyond these suns and showers.
For us, the autumn glow, the autumn flame,
And soon the winter silence shall be ours:
Him the eternal spring of fadeless fame
Crowns with no mortal flowers.

Rapt though he be from us,
Virgil salutes him, and Theocritus;
Catullus, mightiest-brained Lucretius, each
Greets him, their brother, on the Stygian beach;
Proudly a gaunt right hand doth Dante reach;
Milton and Wordsworth bid him welcome home;
Bright Keats to touch his raiment doth beseech;
Coleridge, his locks aspersed with fairy foam,
Calm Spenser, Chaucer suave,
His equal friendship crave:
And godlike spirits hail him guest, in speech
Of Athens, Florence, Weimar, Stratford, Rome.

What needs his laurel our ephemeral tears,
To save from visitation of decay?
Not in this temporal sunlight, now, that bay
Blooms, nor to perishable mundane ears
Sings he with lips of transitory clay;
For he hath joined the chorus of his peers
In habitations of the perfect day:
His earthly notes a heavenly audience hears,
And more melodious are henceforth the spheres,
Enriched with music stol'n from earth away.

He hath returned to regions whence he came.
Him doth the spirit divine
Of universal loveliness reclaim.
All nature is his shrine.
Seek him henceforward in the wind and sea,
In earth's and air's emotion or repose,
In every star's august serenity,
And in the rapture of the flaming rose.
There seek him if ye would not seek in vain,
There, in the rhythm and music of the Whole;
Yea, and for ever in the human soul
Made stronger and more beauteous by his strain.

For lo! creation's self is one great choir,
And what is nature's order but the rhyme
Whereto the worlds keep time,
And all things move with all things from their prime?
Who shall expound the mystery of the lyre?
In far retreats of elemental mind
Obscurely comes and goes
The imperative breath of song, that as the wind
Is trackless, and oblivious whence it blows.
Demand of lilies wherefore they are white,
Extort her crimson secret from the rose,
But ask not of the Muse that she disclose
The meaning of the riddle of her might:
Somewhat of all things sealed and recondite,
Save the enigma of herself, she knows.
The master could not tell, with all his lore,
Wherefore he sang, or whence the mandate sped;
Ev'n as the linnet sings, so I, he said;--
Ah, rather as the imperial nightingale,
That held in trance the ancient Attic shore,
And charms the ages with the notes that o'er
All woodland chants immortally prevail!
And now, from our vain plaudits greatly fled,
He with diviner silence dwells instead,
And on no earthly sea with transient roar,
Unto no earthly airs, he trims his sail,
But far beyond our vision and our hail
Is heard for ever and is seen no more.

No more, O never now,
Lord of the lofty and the tranquil brow
Whereon nor snows of time
Have fall'n, nor wintry rime,
Shall men behold thee, sage and mage sublime.
Once, in his youth obscure,
The maker of this verse, which shall endure
By splendour of its theme that cannot die,
Beheld thee eye to eye,
And touched through thee the hand
Of every hero of thy race divine,
Ev'n to the sire of all the laurelled line,
The sightless wanderer on the Ionian strand,
With soul as healthful as the poignant brine,
Wide as his skies and radiant as his seas,
Starry from haunts of his Familiars nine,
Glorious Maeonides.
Yea, I beheld thee, and behold thee yet:
Thou hast forgotten, but can I forget?
The accents of thy pure and sovereign tongue,
Are they not ever goldenly impressed
On memory's palimpsest?
I see the wizard locks like night that hung,
I tread the floor thy hallowing feet have trod;
I see the hands a nation's lyre that strung,
The eyes that looked through life and gazed on God.

The seasons change, the winds they shift and veer;
The grass of yesteryear
Is dead; the birds depart, the groves decay:
Empires dissolve and peoples disappear:
Song passes not away.
Captains and conquerors leave a little dust,
And kings a dubious legend of their reign;
The swords of Caesars, they are less than rust:
The poet doth remain.
Dead is Augustus, Maro is alive;
And thou, the Mantuan of our age and clime,
Like Virgil shalt thy race and tongue survive,
Bequeathing no less honeyed words to time,
Embalmed in amber of eternal rhyme,
And rich with sweets from every Muse's hive;
While to the measure of the cosmic rune
For purer ears thou shalt thy lyre attune,
And heed no more the hum of idle praise
In that great calm our tumults cannot reach,
Master who crown'st our immelodious days
With flower of perfect speech.

DEDICATION OF "THE DREAM OF MAN"

TO LONDON, MY HOSTESS

City that waitest to be sung,--
For whom no hand
To mighty strains the lyre hath strung
In all this land,
Though mightier theme the mightiest ones
Sang not of old,
The thrice three sisters' godlike sons
With lips of gold,--
Till greater voice thy greatness sing
In loftier times,
Suffer an alien muse to bring
Her votive rhymes.

Yes, alien in thy midst am I,
Not of thy brood;
The nursling of a norland sky
Of rougher mood:
To me, thy tarrying guest, to me,
'Mid thy loud hum,
Strayed visions of the moor or sea
Tormenting come.
Above the thunder of the wheels
That hurry by,
From lapping of lone waves there steals
A far-sent sigh;

And many a dream-reared mountain crest
My feet have trod,
There where thy Minster in the West
Gropes toward God.
Yet, from thy presence if I go,
By woodlands deep
Or ocean-fringes, thou, I know,
Wilt haunt my sleep;
Thy restless tides of life will foam,
Still, in my sight;
Thy imperturbable dark dome
Will crown my night.

O sea of living waves that roll
On golden sands,
Or break on tragic reef and shoal
'Mid fatal lands;
O forest wrought of living leaves,
Some filled with Spring,
Where joy life's festal raiment weaves
And all birds sing,--
Some trampled in the miry ways,
Or whirled along
By fury of tempestuous days,--
Take thou my song!

For thou hast scorned not heretofore
The gifts of rhyme
I dropped, half faltering, at thy door,
City sublime;
And though 'tis true I am but guest
Within thy gate,
Unto thy hands I owe the best
Awards of fate.
Imperial hostess! thanks from me
To thee belong:
O living forest, living sea,
Take thou my song!

THE DREAM OF MAN

To the eye and the ear of the Dreamer
This Dream out of darkness flew,
Through the horn or the ivory portal,
But he wist not which of the two.

It was the Human Spirit,
Of all men's souls the Soul,
Man the unwearied climber,
That climbed to the unknown goal.
And up the steps of the ages,
The difficult steep ascent,
Man the unwearied climber
Pauseless and dauntless went.
AEons rolled behind him
With thunder of far retreat,
And still as he strove he conquered
And laid his foes at his feet.
Inimical powers of nature,
Tempest and flood and fire,
The spleen of fickle seasons
That loved to baulk his desire,
The breath of hostile climates,
The ravage of blight and dearth,
The old unrest that vexes
The heart of the moody earth,
The genii swift and radiant
Sabreing heaven with flame,
He, with a keener weapon,
The sword of his wit, overcame.
Disease and her ravening offspring,
Pain with the thousand teeth,
He drave into night primeval,
The nethermost worlds beneath,
Till the Lord of Death, the undying,
Ev'n Asrael the King,
No more with Furies for heralds
Came armed with scourge and sting,
But gentle of voice and of visage,
By calm Age ushered and led,
A guest, serenely featured,
Entering, woke no dread.
And, as the rolling aeons
Retreated with pomp of sound,
Man's spirit, grown too lordly
For this mean orb to bound,
By arts in his youth undreamed of
His terrene fetters broke,
With enterprise ethereal
Spurning the natal yoke,
And, stung with divine ambition,
And fired with a glorious greed,
He annexed the stars and the planets
And peopled them with his seed.

Then said he, "The infinite Scripture
I have read and interpreted clear,
And searching all worlds I have found not
My sovereign or my peer.
In what room of the palace of nature
Resides the invisible God?
For all her doors I have opened,
And all her floors I have trod.
If greater than I be her tenant,
Let him answer my challenging call:
Till then I admit no rival,
But crown myself master of all."
And forth as that word went bruited,
By Man unto Man were raised
Fanes of devout self-homage,
Where he who praised was the praised;
And from vast unto vast of creation
The new evangel ran,
And an odour of world-wide incense
Went up from Man unto Man;
Until, on a solemn feast-day,
When the world's usurping lord
At a million impious altars
His own proud image adored,
God spake as He stept from His ambush:
"O great in thine own conceit,
I will show thee thy source, how humble,
Thy goal, for a god how unmeet."

Thereat, by the word of the Maker
The Spirit of Man was led
To a mighty peak of vision,
Where God to His creature said:
"Look eastward toward time's sunrise."
And, age upon age untold,
The Spirit of Man saw clearly
The Past as a chart out-rolled,--
Beheld his base beginnings
In the depths of time, and his strife,
With beasts and crawling horrors
For leave to live, when life
Meant but to slay and to procreate,
To feed and to sleep, among
Mere mouths, voracities boundless,
Blind lusts, desires without tongue,
And ferocities vast, fulfilling
Their being's malignant law,
While nature was one hunger,
And one hate, all fangs and maw.

With that, for a single moment,
Abashed at his own descent,
In humbleness Man's Spirit
At the feet of the Maker bent;
But, swifter than light, he recovered
The stature and pose of his pride,
And, "Think not thus to shame me
With my mean birth," he cried.
"This is my loftiest greatness,
To have been born so low;
Greater than Thou the ungrowing
Am I that for ever grow."
And God forbore to rebuke him,
But answered brief and stern,
Bidding him toward time's sunset
His vision westward turn;
And the Spirit of Man obeying
Beheld as a chart out-rolled
The likeness and form of the Future,
Age upon age untold;
Beheld his own meridian,
And beheld his dark decline,
His secular fall to nadir
From summits of light divine,
Till at last, amid worlds exhausted,
And bankrupt of force and fire,
'Twas his, in a torrent of darkness,
Like a sputtering lamp to expire.

Then a war of shame and anger
Did the realm of his soul divide;
"'Tis false, 'tis a lying vision,"
In the face of his God he cried.
"Thou thinkest to daunt me with shadows;
Not such as Thou feign'st is my doom:
From glory to rise unto glory
Is mine, who have risen from gloom.
I doubt if Thou knew'st at my making
How near to thy throne I should climb,
O'er the mountainous slopes of the ages
And the conquered peaks of time.
Nor shall I look backward nor rest me
Till the uttermost heights I have trod,
And am equalled with Thee or above Thee,
The mate or the master of God."

Ev'n thus Man turned from the Maker,
With thundered defiance wild,
And God with a terrible silence
Reproved the speech of His child.
And man returned to his labours,
And stiffened the neck of his will;
And the aeons still went rolling,
And his power was crescent still.
But yet there remained to conquer
One foe, and the greatest--although
Despoiled of his ancient terrors,
At heart, as of old, a foe--
Unmaker of all, and renewer,
Who winnows the world with his wing,
The Lord of Death, the undying,
Ev'n Asrael the King.

And lo, Man mustered his forces
The war of wars to wage,
And with storm and thunder of onset
Did the foe of foes engage,
And the Lord of Death, the undying,
Was beset and harried sore,
In his immemorial fastness
At night's aboriginal core.
And during years a thousand
Man leaguered his enemy's hold,
While nature was one deep tremor,
And the heart of the world waxed cold,
Till the phantom battlements wavered,
And the ghostly fortress fell,
And Man with shadowy fetters
Bound fast great Asrael.

So, to each star in the heavens,
The exultant word was blown,
The annunciation tremendous,
_Death is overthrown!_
And Space in her ultimate borders
Prolonging the jubilant tone,
With hollow ingeminations,
Sighed, _Death is overthrown!_
And God in His house of silence,
Where He dwelleth aloof, alone,
Paused in His tasks to hearken:
_Death is overthrown!_

Then a solemn and high thanksgiving
By Man unto Man was sung,
In his temples of self-adoration,
With his own multitudinous tongue;
And he said to his Soul: "Rejoice thou
For thy last great foe lies bound,
Ev'n Asrael the Unmaker,
Unmade, disarmed, discrowned."

And behold, his Soul rejoiced not,
The breath of whose being was strife,
For life with nothing to vanquish
Seemed but the shadow of life.
No goal invited and promised
And divinely provocative shone;
And Fear having fled, her sister,
Blest Hope, in her train was gone;
And the coping and crown of achievement
Was hell than defeat more dire--
The torment of all-things-compassed,
The plague of nought-to-desire;
And Man the invincible queller,
Man with his foot on his foes,
In boundless satiety hungred,
Restless from utter repose,
Victor of nature, victor
Of the prince of the powers of the air,
By mighty weariness vanquished,
And crowned with august despair.

Then, at his dreadful zenith,
He cried unto God: "O Thou
Whom of old in my days of striving
Methought I needed not,--now,
In this my abject glory,
My hopeless and helpless might,
Hearken and cheer and succour!"
And God from His lonely height,
From eternity's passionless summits,
On suppliant Man looked down,
And His brow waxed human with pity,
Belying its awful crown.
"Thy richest possession," He answered,
"Blest Hope, will I restore,
And the infinite wealth of weakness
Which was thy strength of yore;
And I will arouse from slumber,
In his hold where bound he lies,
Thine enemy most benefic;--
O Asrael, hear and rise!"

And a sound like the heart of nature
Riven and cloven and torn,
Announced, to the ear universal,
Undying Death new-born.
Sublime he rose in his fetters,
And shook the chains aside
Ev'n as some mortal sleeper
'Mid forests in autumntide
Rises and shakes off lightly
The leaves that lightly fell
On his limbs and his hair unheeded
While as yet he slumbered well.

And Deity paused and hearkened,
Then turned to the undivine,
Saying, "O Man, My creature,
Thy lot was more blest than Mine.
I taste not delight of seeking,
Nor the boon of longing know.
There is but one joy transcendent,
And I hoard it not but bestow.
I hoard it not nor have tasted,
But freely I gave it to thee--
The joy of most glorious striving,
Which dieth in victory."
Thus, to the Soul of the Dreamer,
This Dream out of darkness flew,
Through the horn or the ivory portal,
But he wist not which of the two.

SHELLEY'S CENTENARY

(4TH AUGUST 1892)

Within a narrow span of time,
Three princes of the realm of rhyme,
At height of youth or manhood's prime,
From earth took wing,
To join the fellowship sublime
Who, dead, yet sing.

He, first, his earliest wreath who wove
Of laurel grown in Latmian grove,
Conquered by pain and hapless love
Found calmer home,
Roofed by the heaven that glows above
Eternal Rome.

A fierier soul, its own fierce prey,
And cumbered with more mortal clay,
At Missolonghi flamed away,
And left the air
Reverberating to this day
Its loud despair.

Alike remote from Byron's scorn,
And Keats's magic as of morn
Bursting for ever newly-born
On forests old,
Waking a hoary world forlorn
With touch of gold,

Shelley, the cloud-begot, who grew
Nourished on air and sun and dew,
Into that Essence whence he drew
His life and lyre
Was fittingly resolved anew
Through wave and fire.

'Twas like his rapid soul! 'Twas meet
That he, who brooked not Time's slow feet,
With passage thus abrupt and fleet
Should hurry hence,
Eager the Great Perhaps to greet
With Why? and Whence?

Impatient of the world's fixed way,
He ne'er could suffer God's delay,
But all the future in a day
Would build divine,
And the whole past in ruins lay,
An emptied shrine.

Vain vision! but the glow, the fire,
The passion of benign desire,
The glorious yearning, lift him higher
Than many a soul
That mounts a million paces nigher
Its meaner goal.

And power is his, if naught besides,
In that thin ether where he rides,
Above the roar of human tides
To ascend afar,
Lost in a storm of light that hides
His dizzy car.

Below, the unhastening world toils on,
And here and there are victories won,
Some dragon slain, some justice done,
While, through the skies,
A meteor rushing on the sun,
He flares and dies.

But, as he cleaves yon ether clear
Notes from the unattempted Sphere
He scatters to the enchanted ear
Of earth's dim throng,
Whose dissonance doth more endear
The showering song.

In other shapes than he forecast
The world is moulded: his fierce blast,--
His wild assault upon the Past,--
These things are vain;
Revolt is transient: what _must_ last
Is that pure strain,

Which seems the wandering voices blent
Of every virgin element,--
A sound from ocean caverns sent,--
An airy call
From the pavilioned firmament
O'erdoming all.

And in this world of worldlings, where
Souls rust in apathy, and ne'er
A great emotion shakes the air,
And life flags tame,
And rare is noble impulse, rare
The impassioned aim,

'Tis no mean fortune to have heard
A singer who, if errors blurred
His sight, had yet a spirit stirred
By vast desire,
And ardour fledging the swift word
With plumes of fire.

A creature of impetuous breath,
Our torpor deadlier than death
He knew not; whatsoe'er he saith
Flashes with life:
He spurreth men, he quickeneth
To splendid strife.

And in his gusts of song he brings
Wild odours shaken from strange wings,
And unfamiliar whisperings
From far lips blown,
While all the rapturous heart of things
Throbs through his own,--

His own that from the burning pyre
One who had loved his wind-swept lyre
Out of the sharp teeth of the fire
Unmolten drew,
Beside the sea that in her ire
Smote him and slew.

A GOLDEN HOUR

A beckoning spirit of gladness seemed afloat,
That lightly danced in laughing air before us:
The earth was all in tune, and you a note
Of Nature's happy chorus.

'Twas like a vernal morn, yet overhead
The leafless boughs across the lane were knitting:
The ghost of some forgotten Spring, we said,
O'er Winter's world comes flitting.

Or was it Spring herself, that, gone astray,
Beyond the alien frontier chose to tarry?
Or but some bold outrider of the May,
Some April-emissary?

The apparition faded on the air,
Capricious and incalculable comer.--
Wilt thou too pass, and leave my chill days bare,
And fall'n my phantom Summer?

AT THE GRAVE OF CHARLES LAMB, IN EDMONTON

Not here, O teeming City, was it meet
Thy lover, thy most faithful, should repose,
But where the multitudinous life-tide flows
Whose ocean-murmur was to him more sweet
Than melody of birds at morn, or bleat
Of flocks in Spring-time, _there_ should Earth enclose
His earth, amid thy thronging joys and woes,
There, 'neath the music of thy million feet.
In love of thee this lover knew no peer.
Thine eastern or thy western fane had made
Fit habitation for his noble shade.
Mother of mightier, nurse of none more dear,
Not here, in rustic exile, O not here,
Thy Elia like an alien should be laid!

LINES IN A FLYLEAF OF "CHRISTABEL"

Inhospitably hast thou entertained,
O Poet, us the bidden to thy board,
Whom in mid-feast, and while our thousand mouths
Are one laudation of the festal cheer,
Thou from thy table dost dismiss, unfilled.
Yet loudlier thee than many a lavish host
We praise, and oftener thy repast half-served
Than many a stintless banquet, prodigally
Through satiate hours prolonged; nor praise less well
Because with tongues thou hast not cloyed, and lips
That mourn the parsimony of affluent souls,
And mix the lamentation with the laud.

LINES TO OUR NEW CENSOR

[Mr. Oscar Wilde, having discovered that England is unworthy
of him, has announced his resolve to become a naturalised
Frenchman.]

And wilt thou, Oscar, from us flee,
And must we, henceforth, wholly sever?
Shall thy laborious _jeux-d'esprit_
Sadden our lives no more for ever?

And all thy future wilt thou link
With that brave land to which thou goest?
Unhappy France! we _used_ to think
She touched, at Sedan, fortune's lowest.

And you're made French as easily
As you might change the clothes you're wearing?
Fancy!--and 'tis so hard to be
A man of sense and modest bearing.

May fortitude beneath this blow
Fail not the gallant Gallic nation!
By past experience, well we know
Her genius for recuperation.

And as for us--to our disgrace,
Your stricture's truth must be conceded:
Would any but a stupid race
Have made the fuss about you _we_ did?

RELUCTANT SUMMER

Reluctant Summer! once, a maid
Full easy of access,
In many a bee-frequented shade
Thou didst thy lover bless.
Divinely unreproved I played,
Then, with each liberal tress--
And art thou grown at last afraid
Of some too close caress?

Or deem'st that if thou shouldst abide
My passion might decay?
Thou leav'st me pining and denied,
Coyly thou say'st me nay.
Ev'n as I woo thee to my side,
Thou, importuned to stay,
Like Orpheus' half-recovered bride
Ebb'st from my arms away.

THE GREAT MISGIVING

"Not ours," say some, "the thought of death to dread;
Asking no heaven, we fear no fabled hell:
Life is a feast, and we have banqueted--
Shall not the worms as well?

"The after-silence, when the feast is o'er,
And void the places where the minstrels stood,
Differs in nought from what hath been before,
And is nor ill nor good."

Ah, but the Apparition--the dumb sign--
The beckoning finger bidding me forego
The fellowship, the converse, and the wine,
The songs, the festal glow!

And ah, to know not, while with friends I sit,
And while the purple joy is passed about,
Whether 'tis ampler day divinelier lit
Or homeless night without;

And whether, stepping forth, my soul shall see
New prospects, or fall sheer--a blinded thing!
_There_ is, O grave, thy hourly victory,
And there, O death, thy sting.

"THE THINGS THAT ARE MORE EXCELLENT"

As we wax older on this earth,
Till many a toy that charmed us seems
Emptied of beauty, stripped of worth,
And mean as dust and dead as dreams,--
For gauds that perished, shows that passed,
Some recompense the Fates have sent:
Thrice lovelier shine the things that last,
The things that are more excellent.

Tired of the Senate's barren brawl,
An hour with silence we prefer,
Where statelier rise the woods than all
Yon towers of talk at Westminster.
Let this man prate and that man plot,
On fame or place or title bent:
The votes of veering crowds are not
The things that are more excellent.

Shall we perturb and vex our soul
For "wrongs" which no true freedom mar,
Which no man's upright walk control,
And from no guiltless deed debar?
What odds though tonguesters heal, or leave
Unhealed, the grievance they invent?
To things, not phantoms, let us cleave--
The things that are more excellent.

Nought nobler is, than to be free:
The stars of heaven are free because
In amplitude of liberty
Their joy is to obey the laws.
From servitude to freedom's _name_
Free thou thy mind in bondage pent;
Depose the fetich, and proclaim
The things that are more excellent.

And in appropriate dust be hurled
That dull, punctilious god, whom they
That call their tiny clan the world,
Serve and obsequiously obey:
Who con their ritual of Routine,
With minds to one dead likeness blent,
And never ev'n in dreams have seen
The things that are more excellent.

To dress, to call, to dine, to break
No canon of the social code,
The little laws that lacqueys make,
The futile decalogue of Mode,--
How many a soul for these things lives,
With pious passion, grave intent!
While Nature careless-handed gives
The things that are more excellent.

To hug the wealth ye cannot use,
And lack the riches all may gain,--
O blind and wanting wit to choose,
Who house the chaff and burn the grain!
And still doth life with starry towers
Lure to the bright, divine ascent!--
Be yours the things ye would: be ours
The things that are more excellent.

The grace of friendship--mind and heart
Linked with their fellow heart and mind;
The gains of science, gifts of art;
The sense of oneness with our kind;
The thirst to know and understand--
A large and liberal discontent:
These are the goods in life's rich hand,
The things that are more excellent.

In faultless rhythm the ocean rolls,
A rapturous silence thrills the skies;
And on this earth are lovely souls,
That softly look with aidful eyes.
Though dark, O God, Thy course and track,
I think Thou must at least have meant
That nought which lives should wholly lack
The things that are more excellent.

BEAUTY'S METEMPSYCHOSIS

That beauty such as thine
Can die indeed,
Were ordinance too wantonly malign:
No wit may reconcile so cold a creed
With beauty such as thine.

From wave and star and flower
Some effluence rare
Was lent thee, a divine but transient dower:
Thou yield'st it back from eyes and lips and hair
To wave and star and flower.

Shouldst thou to-morrow die,
Thou still shalt be
Found in the rose and met in all the sky:
And from the ocean's heart shalt sing to me,
Shouldst thou to-morrow die.

ENGLAND MY MOTHER

I

England my mother,
Wardress of waters.
Builder of peoples,
Maker of men,--

Hast thou yet leisure
Left for the muses?
Heed'st thou the songsmith
Forging the rhyme?

Deafened with tumults,
How canst thou hearken?
Strident is faction,
Demos is loud.

Lazarus, hungry,
Menaces Dives;
Labour the giant
Chafes in his hold.

Yet do the songsmiths
Quit not their forges;
Still on life's anvil
Forge they the rhyme.

Still the rapt faces
Glow from the furnace:
Breath of the smithy
Scorches their brows.

Yea, and thou hear'st them?
So shall the hammers
Fashion not vainly
Verses of gold.

II

Lo, with the ancient
Roots of man's nature,
Twines the eternal
Passion of song.

Ever Love fans it,
Ever Life feeds it,
Time cannot age it;
Death cannot slay.

Deep in the world-heart
Stand its foundations,
Tangled with all things,
Twin-made with all.

Nay, what is Nature's
Self, but an endless
Strife toward music,
Euphony, rhyme?

Trees in their blooming,
Tides in their flowing,
Stars in their circling,
Tremble with song.

God on His throne is
Eldest of poets:
Unto His measures
Moveth the Whole.

III

Therefore deride not
Speech of the muses,
England my mother,
Maker of men.

Nations are mortal,
Fragile is greatness;
Fortune may fly thee,
Song shall not fly.

Song the all-girdling,
Song cannot perish:
Men shall make music,
Man shall give ear.

Not while the choric
Chant of creation
Floweth from all things,
Poured without pause,

Cease we to echo
Faintly the descant
Whereto for ever
Dances the world.

IV

So let the songsmith
Proffer his rhyme-gift,
England my mother,
Maker of men.

Gray grows thy count'nance,
Full of the ages;
Time on thy forehead
Sits like a dream:

Song is the potion
All things renewing,
Youth's one elixir,
Fountain of morn.

Thou, at the world-loom
Weaving thy future,
Fitly may'st temper
Toil with delight.

Deemest thou, labour
Only is earnest?
Grave is all beauty,
Solemn is joy.

Song is no bauble--
Slight not the songsmith,
England my mother,
Maker of men.

NIGHT

In the night, in the night,
When thou liest alone,
Ah, the sounds that are blown
In the freaks of the breeze,
By the spirit that sends
The voice of far friends
With the sigh of the seas
In the night!

In the night, in the night,
When thou liest alone,
Ah, the ghosts that make moan
From the days that are sped:
The old dreams, the old deeds,
The old wound that still bleeds,
And the face of the dead
In the night!

In the night, in the night,
When thou liest alone,
With the grass and the stone
O'er thy chamber so deep,
Ah, the silence at last,
Life's dissonance past,
And only pure sleep
In the night!

THE FUGITIVE IDEAL

As some most pure and noble face,
Seen in the thronged and hurrying street,
Sheds o'er the world a sudden grace,
A flying odour sweet,
Then, passing, leaves the cheated sense
Baulked with a phantom excellence;

So, on our soul the visions rise
Of that fair life we never led:
They flash a splendour past our eyes,
We start, and they are fled:
They pass, and leave us with blank gaze,
Resigned to our ignoble days.

"THE FORESTERS"

(Lines written on the appearance of Lord Tennyson's drama.)

Clear as of old the great voice rings to-day,
While Sherwood's oak-leaves twine with Aldworth's bay:
The voice of him the master and the sire
Of one whole age and legion of the lyre,
Who sang his morning-song when Coleridge still
Uttered dark oracles from Highgate Hill,
And with new-launched argosies of rhyme
Gilds and makes brave this sombreing tide of time.
Far be the hour when lesser brows shall wear
The laurel glorious from that wintry hair--
When he, the sovereign of our lyric day,
In Charon's shallop must be rowed away,
And hear, scarce heeding, 'mid the plash of oar,
The _ave atque vale_ from the shore!

To him nor tender nor heroic muse
Did her divine confederacy refuse:
To all its moods the lyre of life he strung,
And notes of death fell deathless from his tongue.
Himself the Merlin of his magic strain,
He bade old glories break in gloom again;
And so exempted from oblivious doom,
Through him these days shall fadeless break in bloom.

SONG

Lightly we met in the morn,
Lightly we parted at eve.
There was never a thought of the thorn
The rose of a day might leave.

Fate's finger we did not perceive,
So lightly we met in the morn!
So lightly we parted at eve
We knew not that Love was born.

I rose on the morrow forlorn,
To pine and remember and grieve.
Too lightly we met in the morn!
Too lightly we parted at eve!

COLUMBUS

(12TH OCTOBER 1492)

From his adventurous prime
He dreamed the dream sublime:
Over his wandering youth
It hung, a beckoning star.
At last the vision fled,
And left him in its stead
The scarce sublimer truth,
The world he found afar.

The scattered isles that stand
Warding the mightier land
Yielded their maidenhood
To his imperious prow.
The mainland within call
Lay vast and virginal:
In its blue porch he stood:
No more did fate allow.

No more! but ah, how much,
To be the first to touch
The veriest azure hem
Of that majestic robe!
Lord of the lordly sea,
Earth's mightiest sailor he:
Great Captain among them,
The captors of the globe.

When shall the world forget
Thy glory and our debt,
Indomitable soul,
Immortal Genoese?
Not while the shrewd salt gale
Whines amid shroud and sail,
Above the rhythmic roll
And thunder of the seas.

THE PRINCE'S QUEST
AND OTHER POEMS

THE PRINCE'S QUEST

PART THE FIRST

There was a time, it passeth me to say
How long ago, but sure 'twas many a day
Before the world had gotten her such store
Of foolish wisdom as she hath,--before
She fell to waxing gray with weight of years
And knowledge, bitter knowledge, bought with tears,--
When it did seem as if the feet of time
Moved to the music of a golden rhyme,
And never one false thread might woven be
Athwart that web of worldwide melody.
'Twas then there lived a certain queen and king,
Unvext of wars or other evil thing,
Within a spacious palace builded high,
Whence they might see their chiefest city lie
About them, and half hear from their tall towers
Its populous murmur through the daylight hours,
And see beyond its walls the pleasant plain.
One child they had, these blissful royal twain:
Of whom 'tis told--so more than fair was he--
There lurked at whiles a something shadowy
Deep down within the fairness of his face;
As 'twere a hint of some not-earthly grace,
Making the royal stripling rather seem
The very dreaming offspring of a dream
Than human child of human ancestry:
And something strange-fantastical was he,
I doubt not. Howsoever he upgrew,
And after certain years to manhood drew
Nigh, so that all about his father's court,
Seeing his graciousness of princely port,
Rejoiced thereat; and many maidens' eyes
Look'd pleased upon his beauty, and the sighs
Of many told I know not what sweet tales.

So, like to some fair ship with sunlit sails,
Glided his youth amid a stormless sea,
Till once by night there came mysteriously
A fateful wind, and o'er an unknown deep
Bore him perforce. It chanced that while in sleep
He lay, there came to him a strange dim dream.
'Twas like as he did float adown a stream,
In a lone boat that had nor sail nor oar
Yet seemed as it would glide for evermore,
Deep in the bosom of a sultry land
Fair with all fairness. Upon either hand
Were hills green-browed and mist-engarlanded,
And all about their feet were woods bespread,
Hoarding the cool and leafy silentness
In many an unsunned hollow and hid recess.
Nought of unbeauteous might be there espied;
But in the heart of the deep woods and wide,
And in the heart of all, was Mystery--
A something more than outer eye might see,
A something more than ever ear might hear.
The very birds that came and sang anear
Did seem to syllable some faery tongue,
And, singing much, to hold yet more unsung.
And heard at whiles, with hollow wandering tone,
Far off, as by some aery huntsmen blown,
Faint-echoing horns, among the mountains wound,
Made all the live air tremulous with sound.

So hour by hour (thus ran the Prince's dream)
Glided the boat along the broadening stream;
Till, being widowed of the sun her lord,
The purblind day went groping evenward:
Whereafter Sleep compelled to his mild yoke
The bubbling clear souls of the feathered folk,
Sealing the vital fountains of their song.
Howbeit the Prince went onward all night long
And never shade of languor came on him,
Nor any weariness his eyes made dim.
And so in season due he heard the breath
Of the brief winds that wake ere darkness' death
Sigh through the woods and all the valley wide:
The rushes by the water answering sighed:
Sighed all the river from its reedy throat.
And like a winged creature went the boat,
Over the errant water wandering free,
As some lone seabird over a lone sea.

And Morn pale-haired with watery wide eyes
Look'd up. And starting with a swift surprise,
Sprang to his feet the Prince, and forward leant,
His gaze on something right before him bent
That like a towered and templed city showed,
Afar off, dim with very light, and glowed
As burnished seas at sundawn when the waves
Make amber lightnings all in dim-roof'd caves
That fling mock-thunder back. Long leagues away,
Down by the river's green right bank it lay,
Set like a jewel in the golden morn:
But ever as the Prince was onward borne,
Nearer and nearer danced the dizzy fires
Of domes innumerable and sun-tipt spires
And many a sky-acquainted pinnacle,
Splendid beyond what mortal tongue may tell;
And ere the middle heat of day was spent,
He saw, by nearness thrice-magnificent,
Hardly a furlong's space before him lie
The City, sloping to the stream thereby.

And therewithal the boat of its own will
Close to the shore began to glide, until,
All of a sudden passing nigh to where
The glistering white feet of a marble stair
Ran to the rippled brink, the Prince outsprang
Upon the gleamy steps, and wellnigh sang
For joy, to be once more upon his feet,
Amid the green grass and the flowers sweet.
So on he paced along the river-marge,
And saw full many a fair and stately barge,
Adorned with strange device and imagery,
At anchor in the quiet waters lie.
And presently he came unto a gate
Of massy gold, that shone with splendid state
Of mystic hieroglyphs, and storied frieze
All overwrought with carven phantasies.
And in the shadow of the golden gate,
One in the habit of a porter sate,
And on the Prince with wondering eye looked he,
And greeted him with reverent courtesy,
Saying, "Fair sir, thou art of mortal race,
The first hath ever journeyed to this place,--
For well I know thou art a stranger here,
As by the garb thou wearest doth appear;
And if thy raiment do belie thee not,
Thou should'st be some king's son. And well I wot,
If that be true was prophesied of yore,
A wondrous fortune is for thee in store;
For though I be not read in Doomful Writ,
Oft have I heard the wise expounding it,
And, of a truth, the fatal rolls declare
_That the first mortal who shall hither fare
Shall surely have our Maiden-Queen to wife,
And while the world lives shall they twain have life. _"

Hereat, be sure, the wonder-stricken youth,
Holden in doubt if this were lies or truth,
Was tongue-tied with amaze, and sore perplext,
Unknowing what strange thing might chance him next,
And ere he found fit words to make reply,
The porter bade a youth who stood hard by
Conduct the princely stranger, as was meet,
Through the great golden gate into the street,
And thence o'er all the city, wheresoe'er
Was aught to show of wonderful or fair.

With that the Prince, beside his willing guide,
Went straightway through the gate, and stood inside
The wall, that, builded of a rare white stone,
Clasp'd all the city like a silver zone.
And thence down many a shining street they passed,
Each one appearing goodlier than the last,
Cool with the presence of innumerous trees
And fountains playing before palaces.
And whichsoever way the Prince might look,
Another marvel, and another, took
His wildered eyes with very wonderment.
And holding talk together as they went,
The Prince besought his guide to tell him why
Of all the many folk that passed them by
There was not one that had the looks of eld,
Or yet of life's mid-years; for they beheld
Only young men and maidens everywhere,
Nor ever saw they one that was not fair.
Whereat the stripling: "Master, thou hast seen,
Belike, the river that doth flow between
Flowers and grasses at the city's feet?"
And when the Prince had rendered answer meet,
"Then," said the other, "know that whosoe'er
Drinks of the water thou beheldest there
(It matters not how many are his years)
Thenceforward from that moment he appears
Like as he was in youthly days, before
His passed summers told beyond a score:
And so the people of this land possess
Unto all time their youth and comeliness."

Scarce had his mouth made answer when there rose
Somewhat of tumult, ruffling the repose
Of the wide splendid street; and lifting up
His eyes, the Prince beheld a glittering troop
Of horsemen, each upon a beauteous steed,
Toward them coming at a gentle speed.
And as the cavalcade came on apace,
A sudden pleasure lit the stripling's face
Who bore him company and was his guide;
And "Lo, thou shalt behold our queen," he cried,--
"Even the fairest of the many fair;
With whom was never maiden might compare
For very loveliness!" While yet he spake,
On all the air a silver sound 'gan break
Of jubilant and many-tongued acclaim,
And in a shining car the bright queen came,
And looking forth upon the multitude
Her eyes beheld the stranger where he stood,
And round about him was the loyal stir:
And all his soul went out in love to her.

But even while her gaze met his, behold,
The city and its marvels manifold
Seemed suddenly removed far off, and placed
Somewhere in Twilight; and withal a waste
Of sudden waters lay like time between;
And over all that space he heard the queen
Calling unto him from her chariot;
And then came darkness. And the Dream was not.

PART THE SECOND

A fearful and a lovely thing is Sleep,
And mighty store of secrets hath in keep;
And those there were of old who well could guess
What meant his fearfulness and loveliness,
And all his many shapes of life and death,
And all the secret things he uttereth.
But Wisdom lacketh sons like those that were,
And Sleep hath never an interpreter:
So there be none that know to read aright
The riddles he propoundeth every night.

And verily, of all the wondrous things
By potence wrought of mortal visionings
In that dark house whereof Sleep hath the keys--
Of suchlike miracles and mysteries
Not least, meseems, is this among them all:
That one in dream enamoured should fall,
And ever afterward, in waking thought,
Worship the phantom which the dream hath brought.
Howbeit such things have been, and in such wise
Did that king's son behold, with mortal eyes,
A more than mortal loveliness, and thus
Was stricken through with love miraculous.

For evermore thereafter he did seem
To see that royal maiden of his dream
Unto her palace riding sovranly;
And much he marvelled where that land might be
That basking lay beneath her beauty's beams,
Well knowing in his heart that suchlike dreams
Come not in idleness but evermore
Are Fate's veiled heralds that do fly before
Their mighty master as he journeyeth,
And sing strange songs of life and love and death.
And so he did scarce aught but dream all day
Of that far land revealed of sleep, that lay
He knew not where; and musing more and more
On her the mistress of that unknown shore,
There fell a sadness on him, thus to be
Vext with desire of her he might not see
Yet could not choose but long for; till erewhile
Nor man nor woman might behold the smile
Make sudden morning of his countenance,
But likest one he seemed half-sunk, in trance,
That wanders groping in a shadowy land,
Hearing strange things that none can understand.
Now after many days and nights had passed,
The queen, his mother well-beloved, at last,
Being sad at heart because his heart was sad,
Would e'en be told what hidden cause he had
To be cast down in so mysterious wise:
And he, beholding by her tearful eyes
How of his grief she was compassionate,
No more a secret made thereof, but straight
Discovered to her all about his dream--
The mystic happy marvel of the stream.
A fountain running Youth to all the land;
Flowing with deep dim woods on either hand
Where through the boughs did birds of strange song flit:
And all beside the bloomy banks of it
The city with its towers and domes far-seen.
And then he told her how that city's queen
Did pass before him like a breathing flower,
That he had loved her image from that hour.
"And sure am I," upspake the Prince at last,
"That somewhere in this world so wide and vast
Lieth the land mine eyes have inly seen;--
Perhaps in very truth my spirit hath been
Translated thither, and in very truth
Hath seen the brightness of that city of youth.
Who knows?--for I have heard a wise man say
How that in sleep the souls of mortals may,
At certain seasons which the stars decree,
From bondage of the body be set free
To visit farthest countries, and be borne
Back to their fleshly houses ere the morn."

At this the good queen, greatly marvelling,
Made haste to tell the story to the king;
Who hearing laughed her tale to scorn. But when
Weeks followed one another, and all men
About his person had begun to say
"What ails our Prince? He groweth day by day
Less like the Prince we knew ... wan cheeks, and eyes
Hollow for lack of sleep, and secret sighs....
Some hidden grief the youth must surely have,"--
Then like his queen the king himself wox grave;
And thus it chanced one summer eventide,
They sitting in an arbour side by side,
All unawares the Pince passed by that way,
And as he passed, unmark'd of either--they
Nought heeding but their own discourse--could hear
Amidst thereof his own name uttered clear,
And straight was 'ware it was the queen who spake,
And spake of him; whereat the king 'gan make
Answer in this wise, somewhat angerly:
"The youth is crazed, and but one remedy
Know I, to cure such madness--he shall wed
Some princess; ere another day be sped,
Myself will bid this dreamer go prepare
To take whom I shall choose to wife; some fair
And highborn maiden, worthy to be queen
Hereafter."--So the Prince, albeit unseen,
Heard, and his soul rebelled against the thing
His sire had willed; and slowly wandering
About the darkling pleasance--all amid
A maze of intertangled walks, or hid
In cedarn glooms, or where mysterious bowers
Were heavy with the breath of drowsed flowers--
Something, he knew not what, within his heart
Rose like a faint-heard voice and said "Depart
From hence and follow where thy dream shall lead."
And fain would he have followed it indeed,
But wist not whither it would have him go.

Howbeit, while yet he wandered to and fro,
Among his thoughts a chance remembrance leapt
All sudden--like a seed, that long hath slept
In earth, upspringing as a flower at last,
When he that sowed forgetteth where 'twas cast;
A chance remembrance of the tales men told
Concerning one whose wisdom manifold
Made all the world to wonder and revere--
A mighty mage and learn'd astrologer
Who dwelt in honour at a great king's court
In a far country, whither did resort
Pilgrims innumerable from many lands,
Who crossed the wide seas and the desert sands
To learn of him the occult significance
Of some perplexing omen, or perchance
To hear forewhisperings of their destiny
And know what things in aftertime should be.
"Now surely," thought the Prince, "this subtile seer,
To whom the darkest things belike are clear,
Could read the riddle of my dream and tell
Where lieth that strange land delectable
Wherein mine empress hath her dwelling-place.
So might I look at last upon her face,
And make an end of all these weary sighs,
And melt into the shadow of her eyes!"
Thus musing, for a little space he stood
As holden to the spot; and evil, good,
Life, death, and earth beneath and heaven above,
Shrank up to less than shadows,--only Love,
With harpings of an hundred harps unseen,
Filled all the emptiness where these had been.

But soon, like one that hath a sudden thought,
He lifted up his eyes, and turning sought
The halls once more where he was bred, and passed
Through court and corridor, and reached at last
His chamber, in a world of glimmer and gloom.
Here, while the moonrays filled the wide rich room,
The Prince in haste put off his courtly dress
For raiment of a lesser sumptuousness

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