Mountains of sorrow, I have heard your moans,
And the moving of your pines; but we sit high
On your green shoulders, nearer stoops the sky,
And pure airs visit us from all the zones.
Sweet world beneath, too happy far to sigh,
Dost thou look thus beheld from heavenly thrones?
No; not for all the love that counts thy stones,
While sleepy with great light the valleys lie.
Strange, rapturous peace! its sunshine doth enfold
My heart; I have escaped to the days divine,
It seemeth as bygone ages back had rolled,
And all the eldest past was now, was mine;
Nay, even as if Melchizedec of old
Might here come forth to us with bread and wine.
Like coral insects multitudinous
The minutes are whereof our life is made.
They build it up as in the deep’s blue shade
It grows, it comes to light, and then, and thus
For both there is an end. The populous
Sea-blossoms close, our minutes that have paid
Life’s debt of work are spent; the work is laid
Before our feet that shall come after us.
We may not stay to watch if it will speed,
The bard if on some luter’s string his song
Live sweetly yet; the hero if his star
Doth shine. Work is its own best earthly meed,
Else have we none more than the sea-born throng
Who wrought those marvellous isles that bloom afar.
When I reflect how little I have done,
And add to that how little I have seen,
Then furthermore how little I have won
Of joy, or good, how little known, or been:
I long for other life more full, more keen,
And yearn to change with such as well have run—
Yet reason mocks me—nay, the soul, I ween,
Granted her choice would dare to change with none;
No,—not to feel, as Blondel when his lay
Pierced the strong tower, and Richard answered it—
No,—not to do, as Eustace on the day
He left fair Calais to her weeping lit—
No,—not to be, Columbus, waked from sleep
When his new world rose from the charmed deep.
Strange was the doom of Heracles, whose shade
Had dwelling in dim Hades the unblest,
While yet his form and presence sat a guest
With the old immortals when the feast was made.
Thine like, thus differs; form and presence laid
In this dim chamber of enforced rest,
It is the unseen “shade” which, risen, hath pressed
Above all heights where feet Olympian strayed.
My soul admires to hear thee speak; thy thought
Falls from a high place like an August star,
Or some great eagle from his air-hung rings—
When swooping past a snow-cold mountain scar—
Down he steep slope of a long sunbeam brought,
He stirs the wheat with the steerage of his wings.