She sees by a flash what he saw continuously; but it is by the same light she sees it and wins her place among the mystics.
Her mind was not always poised. It swung between its vision of transparent unity and its love of earth for earth’s sake. There are at least four poems of hers that show this entirely natural oscillation.
In one, a nameless poem, the Genius of Earth calls to the visionary soul:
Shall earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee,
Shall nature cease to bow?
Thy mind is ever moving
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving,
Come back, and dwell with me.
* * * * *
Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine;
Yet few would ask a heaven
More like this earth than thine.
“The Night-Wind” sings the same song, lures with the same enchantment; and the human voice answers, resisting:
Play with the scented flower,
The young tree’s supple bough,
And leave my human feelings
In their own course to flow.
But the other voice is stronger:
The wanderer would not heed me;
Its kiss grew warmer still.
“Oh, come,” it sighed so sweetly;
“I’ll win thee ’gainst thy will.
“Were we not friends from childhood?
Have I not loved thee long?
As long as thou, the solemn night,
Whose silence wakes my song.
“And when thy heart is resting
Beneath the church-aisle stone,
I shall have time for mourning,
And thou for being alone.”
There are nine verses of “The Night-Wind”, and the first eight are negligible; but, as for the last and ninth, I do not know any poem in any language that renders, in four short lines, and with such incomparable magic and poignancy, the haunting and pursuing of the human by the inhuman, that passion of the homeless and eternal wind.
And this woman, destitute, so far as can be known, of all metaphysical knowledge or training, reared in the narrowest and least metaphysical of creeds, did yet contrive to express in one poem of four irregular verses all the hunger and thirst after the “Absolute” that ever moved a human soul, all the bewilderment and agony inflicted by the unintelligible spectacle of existence, the intolerable triumph of evil over good, and did conceive an image and a vision of the transcendent reality that holds, as in crystal, all the philosophies that were ever worthy of the name.
Here it is. There are once more two voices: one of the Man, the other of the Seer:
Oh, for the time when I shall sleep
And never care how rain may steep,
Or snow may cover me!
No promised heaven, these wild desires
Could all, or half fulfil;
No threatened hell, with quenchless fires,
Subdue this restless will.