Once on the year’s last eve in my mind’s
Sitting in dreams, not sad, nor quite elysian,
Balancing all ’twixt wonder and derision,
Methought my body and all this world took flight,
And vanished from me, as a dream, outright;
Leaning out thus in sudden strange decision,
I saw as it were in the flashing of a vision,
Far down between the tall towers of the night,
Borne by great winds in awful unison,
The teeming masses of mankind sweep by,
Even as a glittering river with deep sound
And innumerable banners, rolling on
Over the starry border glooms that bound
The last gray space in dim eternity.
And all that strange unearthly multitude
Seemed twisted in vast seething companies,
That evermore with hoarse and terrible cries
And desperate encounter at mad feud
Plunged onward, each in its implacable mood
Borne down over the trampled blazonries
Of other faiths and other phantasies,
Each falling furiously, and each pursued;
So sped they on with tumult vast and grim,
But ever meseemed beyond them I could see
White-haloed groups that sought perpetually
The figure of one crowned and sacrificed;
And faint, far forward, floating tall and dim,
The banner of our Lord and Master, Christ.
All day upon the garden bright
The suns shines strong,
But in my heart there is no light,
Or any song.
Voices of merry life go by,
Adown the street;
But I am weary of the cry
And drift of feet.
With all dear things that ought to please
The hours are blessed,
And yet my soul is ill at ease,
And cannot rest.
Strange spirit, leave me not too long,
Nor stint to give,
For if my soul have no sweet song,
It cannot live.
Songs that could span the earth,
When leaping thought had stirred them,
In many an hour since birth,
We heard or dreamed we heard them.
Sometimes to all their sway
We yield ourselves half fearing,
Sometimes with hearts grown grey
We curse ourselves for hearing.
We toil and but begin;
In vain our spirits fret them,
We strive, and cannot win,
Nor evermore forget them.
A light that will not stand,
That comes and goes in flashes,
Fair fruits that in the hand
Are turned to dust and ashes.
Yet still the deep thoughts ring
Around and through and through us,
Sweet mights that make us sing,
But bring no resting to us.
The trees rustle; the wind blows
Merrily out of the town;
The shadows creep, the sun goes
Steadily over and down.