I left my dreary page and sallied forth,
Received the fair inscriptions of the night;
The moon was making amber of the world,
Glittered with silver every cottage pane,
The trees were rich, yet ominous with gloom.
The meadows broad
From ferns and grapes and from the folded flowers
Sent a nocturnal fragrance; harlot flies
Flashed their small fires in air, or held their court
In fairy groves of herds-grass.
He lives not who can refuse me;
All my force saith, Come and use me:
A gleam of sun, a summer rain,
And all the zone is green again.
Seems, though the soft sheen all enchants,
Cheers the rough crag and mournful dell,
As if on such stern forms and haunts
A wintry storm more fitly fell.
Put in, drive home the sightless wedges
And split to flakes the crystal ledges.
Illusion works impenetrable,
Weaving webs innumerable,
Her gay pictures never fail,
Crowds each on other, veil on veil,
Charmer who will be believed
By man who thirsts to be deceived.
Illusions like the tints of pearl,
Or changing colors of the sky,
Or ribbons of a dancing girl
That mend her beauty to the eye.
The cold gray down upon the quinces lieth
And the poor spinners weave their webs thereon
To share the sunshine that so spicy is.
Samson stark, at Dagon’s knee,
Gropes for columns strong as he;
When his ringlets grew and curled,
Groped for axle of the world.
But Nature whistled with all her winds,
Did as she pleased and went her way.
A train of gay and clouded days
Dappled with joy and grief and praise,
Beauty to fire us, saints to save,
Escort us to a little grave.
No fate, save by the victim’s fault, is low,
For God hath writ all dooms magnificent,
So guilt not traverses his tender will.
Around the man who seeks a noble end,
Not angels but divinities attend.
From high to higher forces
The scale of power uprears,
The heroes on their horses,
The gods upon their spheres.
This shining moment is an edifice
Which the Omnipotent cannot rebuild.
Casts her schemes rarely,
And an aeon allows
For each quality and part
Of the multitudinous
And many-chambered heart.
The beggar begs by God’s command,
And gifts awake when givers sleep,
Swords cannot cut the giving hand
Nor stab the love that orphans keep.
In the chamber, on the stairs,
Go and come
Lemurs and Lars.
Such another peerless queen
Only could her mirror show.
Easy to match what others do,
Perform the feat as well as they;
Hard to out-do the brave, the true,
And find a loftier way:
The school decays, the learning spoils
Because of the sons of wine;
How snatch the stripling from their toils?—
Yet can one ray of truth divine
The blaze of revellers’ feasts outshine.