Cloudland

Uunder green branches I lie,
Pensive, I know not why;
All is dead calm down here;
But yonder, tho' heaven smiles clear,
Bright winds blow, and silent and slow
The vaporous Clouds sail by.

For the branches, that here and there
Grow yellow in autumn air,
Are parted; and through the rent
Of a flower-enwoven tent,
The round blue eye of the peaceful sky
Shows tearless, quiet, and fair.

Face upward, calmly I rest
As the leaf that lies dead on my breast;
And the only sound I hear
Is a rivulet tinkling near,
And falling asleep in the woodland deep
Like a fluttering bird in a nest.

My mood would be full of grace
As an eremite's peaceful face,
And I should slumber away
The delicate dreamful day,
Save for Shapes that swim thro' the silence dim
Of the blue ethereal space!

I close my eyes in vain,
In a pensive, poetic pain:
Even then, to the gurgling glee
Of the Brook I cannot see,
Silent and slow they glide and they go
O'er the bright still blank of the brain!

With a motion wind-bequeath'd,
Fantastically wreathed,
They disturb my Soul, — as the beat
Of the pale Moon's silvern feet
Broke the sleep forlorn of the Sea new-born,
Till it audibly stirr'd and breathed.

White as a flock of sheep,
Slender and soft and deep,
With a radiance mild and faint
As the smile of a pictured Saint,
Or the light that flies from a mother's eyes
On the face of a babe asleep!

Yonder with dripping hair,
Is Aphrodite the fair,
Fresh from the foam, whose dress
Enfleeces her loveliness,
But melts like mist from the limbs sun-kiss'd
That are kindling unaware!

One, like a Titan cold,
With banner about him roll'd,
Bereft of sense, and hurl'd
To the wondrous under-world,
And drifting down, with a weedy crown,
Some miraculous River old.

One like a bank of snows,
Which flushes to crimson, and glows;
One like a goddess tall
In a violet robe; — and all
Have a motion that seems like the motion of dreams, —
A dimly disturb'd repose; —

A motion such as you see
In the pictured divinity
By the touch of an artist thrown
On a Naiad sculptured in stone,
For ever and ever about to quiver
To a frighten'd flush, and flee!

Beautiful, stately, slow,
The pageants changefully grow;
And in my bewilder'd brain
Comes the distinct refrain
Of the stately speech and the mighty reach
Of Songs made long ago.

Into my heart there throng
Rich melodies worshipp'd long:
The epic of Troy divine,
Milton's majestical line,
The palfrey pace and the glittering grace
Of Spenser's magical song.

Do whatever I may,
I cannot shake them away;
They are haunting voices that move
Like the wondrous shapes above;
Stately and slow they come and they go,
Like measured words when we pray.

When the troublous motion sublime
Of the Clouds and the answering rhyme,
Ceasing, leave now and again
A pause in the hush'd heart, then
The brook bursts in with a pastoral din,
A gurgling lyrical chime!

Oh! sweet, very sweet, to lie
Pensive, I know not why,
And to fashion magical swarms
Of poet-created Forms
In the pageants dumb that go and come
Above in a windless sky!

For yonder, a dark Ship furls
Sails by an Island of pearls,
And crafty Ulysses steers
Through the white-tooth'd waves, and hears
The liquid song of the syren throng,
That beckon through golden curls.

Tis faded away, and lo!
The Grecian tents, like snow,
And a brazen Troy afar,
Whence Helen glitters a star;
And the tents reveal the glimmering steel
Of the gathering Greeks below!

In fierce, precipitate haste
From a golden gate are chased
A shadowy Adam and Eve;
And within the Gate they leave,
Doth a sunbeam stand like the angel's brand,
To illumine the azure waste.

The sunbeam fading, behold
A huge Tree tipp'd with gold,
And a naked Eve beneath,
With the apple raised to her teeth;
While round and round the Snake coils, wound
In many a magical fold.

Oppress'd with fanciful fears,
Trembling with unshed tears,
I droop my eyes, until
The notes of the lyrical rill
Are shaken like rain on my eyelids twain,
And another pageant appears.

Far, far away, snow-white,
Full of a silvern light,
Beauteous, and yet so small
They are scarce perceived at all,
See Una guide her Lamb, by the side
Of the mounted Red-Cross Knight.

Then, to meet a far foe, speeds
The Knight over azure meads,
While threatening Dragons, hordes
Of Satyrs, and traitor swords,
Assail the Maid, but tremble afraid
At the milk-white Lamb she leads!

And she wanders undismay'd
Through vistas of sun and shade;
Over a mountain's brow
She shines like a star; and now
She fading is seen in the depths dark-green
Of a mimical forest glade, —

Which, opening flower-like, shows
A Garden of crimson repose,
Of lawns ambrosial,
Streams that flash as they fall,
In the innermost fold an arbour of gold
Like the yellow core of a rose.

On the verge of this fairy land
Doth mailed Sir Guyon stand,
And bending his bloody plume
'Neath portals of snowy bloom,
He enters the place with a pallid face,
Breathless, and sword in hand.

Oh! is it not sweet, sweet, sweet,
To lie in this green retreat,
In a beautiful dim half-dream
Like a god on a hill; and seem
A part of the fair strange shapes up there, —
With the wood-scents round my feet?

But shadows lengthen around,
And the dew is dim on the ground;
And hush'd, to list to the tune
Of the coming stars and moon,
The brook doth creep thro' the umbrage deep
With cooler, quieter sound.

Homeward; — but when the pale
Moon filleth her silver sail,
I shall sit alone with a book
'Neath another heaven, and look
On the spiritual gleam and the cloudy dream
Of Milton's majestical tale;

Or wandering side by side
With Una, through forests wide,
Watch her beauty increase
To heavenly patience and peace,
While the Lamb of light licks her hand snow-white,
And watches her face, meek-eved!

Or, " mid trumpets murmuring loud,
The waving of banners proud,
And the rattle of horses hooves,
See the Grecian host — as it moves
Its glittering powers to the Trojan towers,
That dissolve away, as a Cloud!
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