Low on the surface of the sea
Faint sounds like whispers glide
Of lovers talking tremulously,
Close by the vessel’s side.
Or as within a sleeping wood
A windy sigh awoke,
And fluttering all the leafy brood,
The summer-silence broke.
A wayward phantasy might say
That little ocean-maids
Were clapping little hands of play,
Deep down in ocean-glades.
The traveller by land and flood,
The man of ready mind,
Much questioning the reason, stood—
No answer could he find.
That day, on Egypt’s distant land,
And far from off the shore,
Two nations fought with armed hand,
With bellowing cannon’s roar.
That fluttering whisper, low and near,
Was the far battle-blare;
An airy rippling motion here,
The blasting thunder there.
And so this aching in my breast,
Dim, faint, and undefined,
May be the sound of far unrest,
Borne on the spirit’s wind;
The uproar of the battle fought
Betwixt the bond and free;
The thundering roll in whispers brought
From Heaven’s artillery.
’Tis a little room, my friend;
A baby-walk from end to end;
All the things look sadly real,
This hot noontide’s Unideal.
Seek not refuge at the casement,
There’s no pasture for amazement
But a house most dim and rusty,
And a street most dry and dusty;
Seldom here more happy vision
Than water-cart’s blest apparition,
We’ll shut out the staring space,
Draw the curtains in its face.
Close the eyelids of the room,
Fill it with a scarlet gloom:
Lo! the walls on every side
Are transformed and glorified;
Ceiled as with a rosy cloud
Furthest eastward of the crowd,
Blushing faintly at the bliss
Of the Titan’s good-night kiss,
Which her westward sisters share,—
Crimson they from breast to hair.
’Tis the faintest lends its dye
To my room—ah, not the sky!
Worthy though to be a room
Underneath the wonder-dome:
Look around on either hand,
Are we not in fairy-land?
In the ruddy atmosphere
All familiar things appear
Glowing with a mystery
In the red light shadowy;
Lasting bliss to you and me,
Colour only though it be.
Now on the couch, inwrapt in mist
Of vapourized amethyst,
Lie, as in a rose’s heart;
Secret things I will impart;
Any time you would receive them;
Easier though you will believe them
In dissolving dreamy red,
Self-same radiance that is shed
From the summer-heart of Poet,
Flushing those that never know it.
Tell me not the light thou viewest
Is a false one; ’tis the truest;
’Tis the light revealing wonder,
Filling all above and under;
If in light you make a schism,
’Tis the deepest in the prism.