The full, clear moon uprose and spread
Her cold, pale splendor o’er the sea;
A light-strewn path that seemed to lead
Outward into eternity.
Between the darkness and the gleam
An old-world spell encompassed me:
Methought that in a godlike dream
I trod upon the sea.
And lo! upon that glimmering road,
In shining companies unfurled,
The trains of many a primal god,
The monsters of the elder world;
Strange creatures that, with silver wings,
Scarce touched the ocean’s thronging floor,
The phantoms of old tales, and things
Whose shapes are known no more.
Giants and demi-gods who once
Were dwellers of the earth and sea,
And they who from Deucalion’s stones,
Rose men without an infancy;
Beings on whose majestic lids
Time’s solemn secrets seemed to dwell,
Tritons and pale-limbed Nereids,
And forms of heaven and hell.
Some who were heroes long of yore,
When the great world was hale and young;
And some whose marble lips yet pour
The murmur of an antique tongue;
Sad queens, whose names are like soft moans,
Whose griefs were written up in gold;
And some who on their silver thrones
Were goddesses of old.
As if I had been dead indeed,
And come into some after-land,
I saw them pass me, and take heed,
And touch me with each mighty hand;
And evermore a murmurous stream,
So beautiful they seemed to me,
Not less than in a godlike dream
I trod the shining sea.
What would’st thou have for easement after grief,
When the rude world hath used thee with despite,
And care sits at thine elbow day and night,
Filching thy pleasures like a subtle thief?
To me, when life besets me in such wise,
’Tis sweetest to break forth, to drop the chain,
And grasp the freedom of this pleasant earth,
To roam in idleness and sober mirth,
Through summer airs and summer lands, and drain
The comfort of wide fields unto tired eyes.
By hills and waters, farms and solitudes,
To wander by the day with wilful feet;
Through fielded valleys wide with yellowing wheat;
Along gray roads that run between deep woods,
Murmurous and cool; through hallowed slopes of pine,
Where the long daylight dreams, unpierced, unstirred,
And only the rich-throated thrush is heard;
By lonely forest brooks that froth and shine
In bouldered crannies buried in the hills;
By broken beeches tangled with wild vine,
And log-strewn rivers murmurous with mills.