There was more of marvel and of grace
Than I could tell, howe’er I tried;
The human heart that could embrace
A tenth part were well satisfied;
For Paradise, the very place,
Must be upon that farther side;
The water by a narrow space
Pleasance from pleasance did divide.
Beyond, on some slope undescried
The City stood, I thought, wherefore
I strove to cross the river’s tide,
And ever I longed, yet more and more.
More, and still more wistfully,
The banks beyond the brook I scanned;
If, where I stood, ’t was fair to see,
Still lovelier lay that farther land.
I sought if any ford might be
Found, up or down, by rock or sand;
But perils plainer appeared to me,
The farther I strode along the strand;
I thought I ought not thus to stand
Timid, with such bright bliss before;
Then a new matter came to hand
That moved my heart yet more and more.
Marvels more and more amaze
My mind beyond that water fair:
From a cliff of crystal, splendid rays,
Reflected, quiver in the air.
At the cliff’s foot a vision stays
My glance, a maiden debonaire,
All glimmering white before my gaze;
And I know her,—have seen her otherwhere.
Like fine gold leaf one cuts with care,
Shone the maiden on the farther shore.
Long time I looked upon her there,
And ever I knew her more and more.
As more and more I scanned her face
And form, when I had found her so,
A glory of gladness filled the place
Beyond all it was wont to show.
My joy would call her and give chase,
But wonder struck my courage low;
I saw her in so strange a place,
The shock turned my heart dull and slow.
But now she lifts that brow aglow,
Like ivory smooth, even as of yore,
It made my senses straying go,
It stung my heart aye more and more.
More than I liked did my fear rise.
Stock still I stood and dared not call;
With lips close shut and watchful eyes,
I stood as quiet as hawk in hall.
I thought her a spirit from the skies;
I doubted what thing might befall;
If to escape me now she tries,
How shall my voice her flight forestall?
Then graciously and gay withal,
In royal robes, so sweet, so slight,
She rose, so modest and so small,
That precious one in pearls bedight.
Pearl bedight full royally,
Adown the bank with merry mien,
Came the maiden, fresh as fleur-de-lys.
Her surcoat linen must have been
Shining in whitest purity,
Slashed at the sides and caught between
With the fairest pearls, it seemed to me,
That ever yet mine eyes had seen;
With large folds falling loose, I ween,
Arrayed with double pearls, her white
Kirtle, of the same linen sheen,
With precious pearls all round was dight.