With ne’er a light plume dropp’d, nor any trace
To speak of whence they came, or whither they depart?
And why this palpitating heart,
This blind and unrelated joy,
This meaningless desire,
That moves me like the Child
Who in the flushing darkness troubled lies,
Inventing lonely prophecies,
Which even to his Mother mild
He dares not tell;
To which himself is infidel;
His heart not less on fire
With dreams impossible as wildest Arab Tale,
(So thinks the boy,)
With dreams that turn him red and pale,
Yet less impossible and wild
Than those which bashful Love, in his own way and hour,
Shall duly bring to flower?
O, Unknown Eros, sire of awful bliss,
What portent and what Delphic word,
Such as in form of snake forebodes the bird,
In me life’s even flood
What eddies thus?
What in its ruddy orbit lifts the blood,
Like a perturbed moon of Uranus,
Reaching to some great world in ungauged darkness hid;
This rapture of the sense
Which, by thy whisper bid,
Reveres with obscure rite and sacramental sign
A bond I know not of nor dimly can divine;
This subject loyalty which longs
For chains and thongs
Woven of gossamer and adamant,
To bind me to my unguess’d want,
And so to lie,
Between those quivering plumes that thro’ fine ether pant,
For hopeless, sweet eternity?
What God unhonour’d hitherto in songs,
Or which, that now
Forgettest the disguise
That Gods must wear who visit human eyes,
Thou art not Amor; or, if so, yon pyre,
That waits the willing victim, flames with vestal fire;
Nor mooned Queen of maids; or, if thou’rt she,
Ah, then, from Thee
Let Bride and Bridegroom learn what kisses be!
In what veil’d hymn
Or mystic dance
Would he that were thy Priest advance
Thine earthly praise, thy glory limn?
Say, should the feet that feel thy thought
In double-center’d circuit run,
In that compulsive focus, Nought,
In this a furnace like the sun;
And might some note of thy renown
And high behest
Thus in enigma be expressed:
’There lies the crown
Which all thy longing cures.
Refuse it, Mortal, that it may be yours!
It is a Spirit, though it seems red gold;
And such may no man, but by shunning, hold.
Refuse it, till refusing be despair;
And thou shalt feel the phantom in thy hair.’
II. THE CONTRACT.
Twice thirty centuries and more
All in a heavenly Abyssinian vale,
Man first met woman; and the ruddy snow
On many-ridged Abora turn’d pale,
And the song choked within the nightingale.
A mild white furnace in the thorough blast
Of purest spirit seem’d She as she pass’d;
And of the Man enough that this be said,