Walking by moonlight on the golden margin
That binds the silver sea, I fell to thinking
Of all the wild imaginings that man
Hath peopled heaven, and earth, and ocean with;
Making fair nature's solitary haunts
Alive with beings, beautiful and fearful.
And as the chain of thought grew link by link,
It seemed, as though the midnight heavens waxed brighter,
The stars gazed fix'dly with their golden eyes,
And a strange light played o'er each sleeping billow,
That laid its head upon the sandy beach.
Anon there came along the rocky shore
A far-off sound of sweetest minstrelsy.
From no one point of heaven, or earth, it came;
But under, over, and about it breathed;
Filling my soul with thrilling, fearful pleasure.
It swelled, as though borne on the floating wings
Of the midsummer breeze; it died away
Towards heaven, as though it sank into the clouds,
That one by one melted like flakes of snow
In the moonbeams. Then came a rushing sound,
Like countless wings of bees, or butterflies;
And suddenly, as far as eye might view,
The coast was peopled with a world of elves,
Who in fantastic ringlets danced around,
With antic gestures, and wild beckoning motion,
Aimed at the moon. White was their snowy vesture,
And shining as the Alps, when that the sun
Gems their pale robes with diamonds. On their heads
Were wreaths of crimson and of yellow foxglove.
They were all fair, and light as dreams; anon
The dance broke off; and sailing through the air,
Some one way, and some other, they did each
Alight upon some waving branch, or flower,
That garlanded the rocks upon the shore.
One, chiefly, did I mark; one tiny sprite,
Who crept into an orange flower-bell,
And there lay nestling, whilst his eager lips
Drank from its virgin chalice the night dew,
That glistened, like a pearl, in its white bosom.
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