A pale and broken Iris in
Of a gray cloud,—as gray as death,
Slow sailing in the breath
Of thunder! Like a child, that lies in terror
Through the dark night, an Iris fair
Trembled midway in air.
The blending of its elfin hues
Was as the pure enamel on
The early morning dews;
And gloriously they shone,
Waving everyone his wing,
Like a young aerial thing!
That Iris came
Over the shells of gold, beside
The blue and waveless tide;
Its girdle, of resplendent flame,
Met shore and sea, afar,
Like angel that shall stand
On flood and land,
Crown’d with a meteor star.
The sea-bird, from her snowy
Beheld it floating on,
Like a bride that bent her way
To the altar, standing lone,
In some cathedral gray.
The melancholy wave
Started at the cry she gave,
Hailing the lovely child
Of the immortal sun,—
A tender and a tearful one,
Bounding away, with footsteps wild!
Old Neptune on his silver
The dazzling image threw;
It laid like sunbeam on the dew,
Its young tress-waving head.
The god upon the shadow gazed,
And silently upraised
A gentle wave, that came and kiss’d
Fair Iris in her holy rest.
Her pearly brow grew pale:
It felt the sinful fire,
And from her queenly tiar
She drew the veil.
The sun-wing’d steeds her sacred car
Wheel’d to her throne of star.
Spirit! in deathless halo
A chain of stars with wings of diamond,—
Is music blended into thee
With holy light and immortality?
For, as thy shape of glory swept
Through seas of darkness, magic breathings fell
Around it, like the notes that slept
In the wild caverns of a silver shell.
Thou camest, as a lightning
Through chasms of horrid cloud, on scathless wing;
Old Chaos round him, like a tiar,
Swathed the long rush of immaterial fire;
As thou, descending from afar,
Wast canopied with living arch of light,
Pale pillars of immortal star,
Burst through the curtains of the moonless night.
Phantom of wonder! over thee,
Trembles the shadow of the Deity;
For face to face, on lifted throne,
Thou gazest to the glory-shrouded One,
Where highest in the azure height
Of universe, eternally he turns
Myriads of worlds; with blaze of light
Filling the hollow of their golden urns.