Ballad of Rebirth

I flew aloft on frozen wings,
I clove a waveless sea,
And sat upon a glittering star
In glory and penury.

And, lapped round like the Cherubim
With waves of my own fire,
I felt the secret moving lust
For the unmoving mire.

I cast myself in wild disdain
From that vast precipice.
I fell, a splintered lance of light,
On a blank ball of ice.

Snowy and red, with wings outspread,
In palsied trance I lay,
And waited with the unwilling dead
The certain Judgment Day.

The terror drove my spirit forth
Into the quivering air.
The ice heaved, and the sleeping beast
Rose reeling from his lair.

That vast, remorseless, ageless beast,
Heaven-high and ocean-wide,
Came from the ice and looked at me,
Pondered, and pitying cried:

“As light is lost in deeper light,
Gloom swallowed up in gloom,
You must in your own infinite
Your infinite entomb.

“A sprite, you must in mire be dipt,
A worm, take wings and fly;
You must in great indifferent seas
Your purity purify.”

Then in the cavern of his maw
He took my limbs and ate,
And turned again, and went behind
The eternal icy gate.

But my soul hovered, trembling still,
On the bleak empty air,
Waited, and feared, and knew full well
What still must happen there.

A lovely youth, jocund and free,
Out of the ribbed ice came,
Across his breast a serpent lay
Like a brown band of flame.

“My limbs are strong as the deep hills,
Set on the enduring slime,
But my eyes were forged in Paradise,
And have forgotten Time!”
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