But he broke free: while all things ceased,
Some hour increasing, he increased.
The town beneath him seemed a map,
Above the church he cocked his cap,
Above the cross his feather flew
Above the birds and still he grew.
The trees turned grass; the clouds were riven;
His feet were mountains lost in heaven;
Through strange new skies he rose alone,
The earth fell from him like a stone,
And his own limbs beneath him far
Seemed tapering down to touch a star.
He reared his head, shaggy and grim,
Staring among the cherubim;
The seven celestial floors he rent,
One crystal dome still o’er him bent:
Above his head, more clear than hope,
All heaven was a microscope.
Fair faces crowd on Christmas night
Like seven suns a-row,
But all beyond is the wolfish wind
And the crafty feet of the snow.
But through the rout one figure goes
With quick and quiet tread;
Her robe is plain, her form is frail—
Wait if she turn her head.
I say no word of line or hue,
But if that face you see,
Your soul shall know the smile of faith’s
Know that in this grotesque old masque
Too loud we cannot sing,
Or dance too wild, or speak too wide
To praise a hidden thing.
That though the jest be old as night,
Still shaketh sun and sphere
An everlasting laughter
Too loud for us to hear.
FEMINA CONTRA MUNDUM
The sun was black with judgment, and the moon
Blood: but between
I saw a man stand, saying, ’To me at least
The grass is green.
’There was no star that I forgot to fear
With love and wonder.
The birds have loved me’; but no answer came—
Only the thunder.
Once more the man stood, saying, ’A cottage
Wherethrough I gazed
That instant as I turned—yea, I am vile;
Yet my eyes blazed.
’For I had weighed the mountains in a balance,
And the skies in a scale,
I come to sell the stars—old lamps for new—
Old stars for sale.’
Then a calm voice fell all the thunder through,
A tone less rough:
’Thou hast begun to love one of my works
TO A CERTAIN NATION
We will not let thee be, for thou art ours.
We thank thee still, though thou forget these things,
For that hour’s sake when thou didst wake all powers
With a great cry that God was sick of kings.
Leave thee there grovelling at their rusted greaves,
These hulking cowards on a painted stage,
Who, with imperial pomp and laurel leaves,
Show their Marengo—one man in a cage.