Prelude: Dawn to Sunset


Beneath the high majestic morning gleaming

Once field and mount and moor and forest lay:

O'er joyous vale and hill I wandered, dreaming

That all life's hours were as the dawn of day.

The sun's touch woke the golden daffodilly;

His clear beam drew the snowdrop from repose:

Then first love said, " My heart is like the lily! "

And passion said, " My soul is as the rose! "

First love and passion with the sun's rich glory

Mixed souls as ardent as that mighty flame.

When love spake, every flower took up love's story:

When passion spake, dream-flowers yet lovelier came.

So love and passion took the world with sweetness,

With sovereign sceptre swayed the sea and land:

The flowers at love's touch won their full completeness,

And passion thrilled the world through woman's hand.

Woman was queen of all the young day's splendour,

Her crown was woven of morning's lustrous light.

At noontide love, perhaps, a shade less tender

To man's heart seemed, — passion a shade less bright.

Through the still afternoon, when shadows lengthened

And on the hills fell silence as of grief,

Though deep within the soul love's sweet force strengthened,

The fierce heat scorched full many a flower and leaf.

Full many a dream had passed, the light of morning

No longer lingered on the sapphire wave.

The shadows whispered, as in sombre warning,

" The sun's sea-cradle is the great sun's grave!

" The sea, from which he rose to fill the air-spaces

With light that laughed to see his victory won,

His joy reflected in a million faces,

Will spread forth darkness, and engulf the sun.

" As surely as the morning flamed resplendent,

Full, as it seemed, of leagues of deathless light,

Will evening, dark slave on the sun attendant,

Turn traitor, slay the sun, and serve the night. "

Ah! so the shadows whispered. But I waited,

I let the dreary shadows tell their tale:

I watched the flowers within the woods belated:

I saw the light upon the hill-tops fail.

I saw the sun's gold chariot, wave-encumbered,

Sink in those very waters whence it shone —

Not long, devoid of life, the darkness slumbered:

Star-torches flashed round black night's ebon throne.

Then, as Love's heart made all its vast aim clearer,

I saw that one pale sun had taken flight

For this — that Love might bring to man's gaze nearer

Unnumbered suns, and never-ending light.

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