Dreams - Part 1

Methought 'twas night; and my unquiet spirit
Stood in the silent presence of a Power
Invisible, though felt. There was no voice,
And yet unutterable thoughts came o'er me,
Accompanied by feelings such as grow
From some unearthly music. There were words
Spoken as in the fever of a dream,
Breathless and indistinct, yet full of awe
High and mysterious. The air was full
Of sights, that scarce were seen, dim images,
Crowding from out the depth of darkness, wild
And terrible, though calm. They looked upon me
Intensely, and they seemed to beckon me
Thoughtful and sad. No utterance meanwhile
Told me their wishes, but they made themselves
Visible to me in their gathering brows
And lowering glances. Then they waved me on
To follow them, and, like a vanishing troop
Of shadows, mingled in the thicker shades,
And all were lost. A deeper darkness hung
Around me, like a burden, and it seemed
To close me in a prison, like the grave,
Narrow and cold. A damp and deathly chill
Ran through me, and methought the earth beneath
Sunk, and the utter night that circled me
Grew thicker, till all thoughts were objectless,
And memory vanished. All the little light
That centred in my brain seemed like a taper
Amid the vapors of a charnel-house,
Quivering and pale; a blue, unearthly flame
Hovers awhile above it, and it falls
Beneath the dank oppression, and then dies.
So thought, and life, and all their energies
Trembled awhile, and hung upon their close,
And then went out. I lay entranced, I know not
If hours or ages,—not a sleep of dreams,
Busy and full of forms and fantasies,
But blank and desolate, without a motion,
Even in the spirit's core,—an utter death,
That leaves no memory of itself, and makes
Myriads of years a moment. So I lay,
Forgotten and alone. Methought a stir
Came to my heart and brain, and some dim feelings
Were moving there, faint as the light of shadows,
When night is deepest, and the waning moon
Hurries behind a cloud. They grew upon me,
And there was light and joy,—a happy dream,
Confused and shapeless, but a dream of days
That are to us our heaven; the early days
Of wonder and of hope, the blissful days
Of buoyancy and love, unspeakable
And holy love, stainless and bright and pure,—
The heart's devotion. They were in my dreams
Struggling to life, and taking, every moment,
A fairer being. I was on the hills,
Methought; and it was spring; and one sweet bird
Settled beside me, on a flowering thorn,
And sang how softly! Then the morning came,
And there was brightness, and the kindling clouds
Were pearl and gold and flame; and then the sun
Rolled up, and all was day. An avenue
Of ancient elms bent over me their boughs,
And the slant light came underneath the arch,
And tinted all the leaves, the quivering leaves,
With rainbows, till a vault of liquid fire
Seemed lifted round me, and I walked unhurt
Amid the glorious furnace. There was magic
And wonder in the hour; and then I looked
On the calm ocean, like a burnished sheet
Of emerald, and all its long, long waves
Were ridged with flame; and by me flowed a brook,
Prattling its merry tale to the cool winds,
That shook the grass and flowers, that stood around it
To gaze upon its mirror, and behold,
Narcissus-like, their beauty; and it wound
Its way unto a meadow, all one bed
Of glancing diamonds. 'T was a dream of light,
And soon as full of love. Methought a voice,
A well-known voice, a voice of very sweetness,
So tender that I felt the first fresh tears
Flow at its touch of music, and dissolve me
In the young happiness, once known, and then
For ever gone,—methought that tender voice
Came from a wood hard by; and it was singing
Catches of old familiar tunes, the treasures
Of infant memory, that warble on
In the bright stream of innocent joys, through all
Our darker years, and hold their unchecked way
Even to the old man's grave. I heard that voice,—
And then awoke within me such a flow
Of passionate thoughts, blended of bright and dark,
Gentle and wild,—a flood that long had swelled
And borne me on its crest, till it became
A sea of cloud and storm,—that, in the grasp
And agony of passion, and the last,
Fixed struggle of despair, again the light
Faded around me, and I sank once more
In night and horror.
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