Dreams - Part 3

I had a dream of music and of song.
Methought one thrill of general harmony
Pervaded all the region, and the winds
Were all attuned, each to its several part,
As if some master spirit had controlled
Their sounds to one accord. Fast-flowing waves
Seemed rolling from an ocean, whose deep heart
Fed them and never failed; and they came onward,
Each with its crown of foam; and as they struck
The shaken shore, their burst was like the echo
Of organ notes in heaven,—majestic sounds,
Awful and terrible, yet far and sweet
As the last pause of thunder, when it sinks
In the embrace of silence. So my ear
Seemed full to overflowing with these strains
Of modulated sound,—loud, airy swells,
And solemn pauses,—touches, as if made
By a most gentle hand; then lingering peals,
That died away in echoes; and again
Soft-stealing symphonies, that wound their way
Into my heart, like Zephyr, when he haunts
The first-blown field of spring, in fond delay
Pausing at every flower, and loading thence
His wings with balm.
As yet there was no vision,
But deep and utter night,—the night of Hades,
Through which the bodiless spirits make their way,
Unheard, unseen, and one impervious veil
Of darkness covers all. The music paused,
And all was one deep hush,—so deep and still,
The beating of my heart was audible,
And my own breathing mingled in my dreams
Like the far rush of waters. Then there came
A solemn march of melody, a flow
Of faint, unearthly warblings, like the sighs
Of sorrowing ghosts; and these stole through my brain
Like lapsing fountains; and anon there rushed
One tide of sound, that poured its airy surges
Into my inmost soul. And as the curtain
Rolls up its shadowy folds, and slowly opens
The glories of the scene, far back retiring
In avenues of pomp, and fading off
In the blue tint of mountains, where some rock
Catches the coming dawn, all else below
Cradled in slumbering shade, so, it meseemed,
The vision opened on me. Faint and chill
It rose before me; and its floating forms
Drew their dim outlines on a cold, wan heaven,
Where neither moon, nor star, nor even dawn
Gave light and hope,—one rayless blank, embracing
Within its leaden cope shapes indistinct,
Confused, and void,—a chaos, like the dreams
That haunt a sick man's couch,—a waste of shadows,
Like mountains in a storm, swelling and heaving,
Broader and higher still, their giant peaks,
Till the eye shrinks from gazing. So it rose,
That visonary pomp, and stood awhile
In terrible obscure; but then it seemed
As if the opening eyelids of the dawn
Unveiled their kindly beams, and sent abroad
The charm of early day. Soft lights and shadows
Now parted from each other, till they took
Distinct and certain shapes; and then a world
Of beauty lay before me. O, how calm
And still it lay!—an infant world, reposing
In its fresh, dewy cradle, hung with flowers,
And rocked by summer winds, such as in June
Crisp the smoothed ocean, till it smiles and kisses
The green, embracing shore.
Methought I stood
Somewhere above it, and it stretched beneath me
In beautiful stillness, for no living sound
Stole upward on the motionless atmosphere,
That circled it as with a brooding wing,
And hushed it all to peace. Far off it lay,
Too far to give the fainter lineaments,
But the broad outline, that was broad and clear,—
Clear as, at noon, the ridges and the vales
On the blue mountain sloping to the sun
Its walls, a nation's bulwarks; liker still
That mountain, when it comes in the dense air
That with a crystalline brightness ushers in
The invisible storm,—when it comes drawing near us,
Till the eye looks into its closest dells,
And sees the fountain flowing so at hand,
That fancy hears it murmur. Thus it lay
In the new dawn;—but soon a cone of flame
Rose up behind a circling ridge that closed
The bosom of a vale, and poured abroad
Rich golden waves, wherewith the mountain peaks
And lowest hollows kindled up, and shone
In more than dazzling brightness,—burnished gold,
And liquid, trembling silver, so the rocks
And winding rivers shone; and far away
Lay the wide sweep of ocean, like a sheet
Of molten glass, and all its islands burnt
Cerulean, like the many hues that play
On the hot gush of steel.
Such was the pomp
That ushered in the day; but when the sun
Had come abroad, and now in the wide heaven
Held on his lordly way, these glorious hues
Were faded, and a clear and steady light
Settled on all below. Methought I sank
Slowly to earth, as through the summer air
Floats the light plume, or from his heavenward seat
An angel stoops to be the messenger
Of love and joy. So gently I descended
Into a flowery plain. Then rose around me
A spacious theatre of wood and mountain,
Stage over stage, from the low shrub that blooms
Beside the hunter's path, up to the rocks
With forehead bald and bare. Not long I stood,
Before a strain of music flowed from out
The forest, as if harps and voices joined
In one unearthly song. It had the power
Of magic, for at once my eyes were closed
On all the beauty, that with near embrace
Threw round its circling arms. The waving woods,
Fresh flowers, and gurgling brooks, and rustling winds
Had vanished, and my spirit, at the sound
Transported, saw another world, and heard
That music all alone.
There lay before me
A broad, bright river, glancing to the morn
In silent motion; waving to and fro,
Not in the wind, for the tall palm-tops stood
Still, as if pillared marble, and the canes
Shook not their spiry blades. Not even a ripple
Gurgled-along the shore; but to and fro
Slowly it waved, and from its sloping mirror
Sent back the coming day. Masses of shade
Lay on the sleeping water, and between
Opened its depths, how clear!—far down, the heavens
Were vaulted, and the bands of lazy clouds,
All in their gorgeous trim, went moving by
With scarce perceptible motion, and their trains
Waved, like the heavy banner of a ship
Down-rolling from the top-mast, when the calm
Has only breath enough to bend its folds
In slow meanderings, and its stars shine out
A momentary glance, and then retire,
And twinkle then again, even as at night
The stars dance on a fountain. Smooth it spread,
That river, and the lotus leaves and flowers
Covered its quiet bays with broidery
Of blue and scarlet, on a ground of purple
And virgin green; and with the long, slow swell
They turned their mirrors sunward, one short flash,
And then fell back in shade. A tall pagoda
Rose opposite, and stretched its frowning walls,
And lifted high its pyramids, o'erfretted
With a wild waste of dreams; and high above
Glittered the golden trident, for the sun
Had risen there, in all that burst of power
Had risen, with which he rushes on the heaven
In equatorial climes. This was the hour
Of prayer, and many white-robed devotees
Came to the river's brink, to sip its wave
And bathe them in its waters. Then I saw
One like a nymph in shape, yet darkly tinted,
Sit on the shady shore. She wove a crown
Of starry flowers, and twined it gracefully
Over her locks of jet; then to the east
She turned, and sung her hymn.

“Forth from thy mountain throne
Advance along thy starry-vaulted way,
Thou burning Lord of day!
Thou holdest on alone,
And all the gods of darkness steal away.
Before thy luminous ray
Night and her shades are flown.

“Forth from the Swerga's bowers
Thou issuest in thy robe of flame;
And over heaven's blue lotus-flowers
Rush the wild steeds no other hand can tame.
They champ, they snort, they blow;
They heave their winnowing manes;
And round thy wheels, in sparkling showers,
Perpetual streams of lightning flow,
And fill yon azure plains.

“Thy beamy car descends,
And, gliding o'er the forest-trees,
To the still river bends,
Up-curling with the newly wakened breeze.
Over its bright expanse
Thy bounding coursers dance,
And sweep the rolling foam before thy path.
They hurry, hurry by;
I hear the chariot's thunder nigh,
I see the radiant God;
He lifts his golden rod,—
How terrible the flashing of his eye!
S URYA , Lord of day, retain thy wrath,—
Send forth thy light to bless, and not to scath.”

Her song had ceased,
Its magic ended; but another spell
At once was on me. Then, methought, a garden
Spread out its avenues, o'erarched with planes,
And filled with citron-flowers. One ancient tree
Towered over me, and threw its shadow broad
And deep below. Beneath it flowed a fountain
Hewn from a natural rock, and by it rose
A tomb, plain wrought in marble, turban-crowned,
And on it carved, “G ULGHESHTI M USELLARA .”
This was the tomb of Hafiz,—these the walks
Of roses, by the fountain Mosellay,
Dearer to him than bowers of Paradise,
The Eastern heaven of love. Far around me lay
One harvest of ripe roses, sending out
The vaporous dews in one invisible cloud
Of odorous bliss. The silence and the calm,
The coolness and the shade, the sweet, low sound
Of the still-flowing fountain, and the breath
Of a faint wind that panted through the thickets,
Were beautiful. They sank upon my soul,
Like dews on withering flowers. They quickened me,
And freshened all my thoughts. And then a voice
Came from the garden, silver-toned and clear,
But melancholy sweet, and often choked
By stifling sobs, as if the bulbul wooed
And languished for his rose, or as the dove
Gurgles around his mate, or sadly mourns
His widowed nest, and makes the twilight wood
Responsive to his sighs. Slowly it came
On through the vaulted alleys, till a group
Of maidens, veiled and fearful, from the bowers
Stepped cautious forth. On to the poet's tomb
They glided, and, low bowed, their offerings gave
Of garlands silken-twined, and with them dressed
Their favorite shrine; then, throwing back their veils,
Revealed their sunny locks, and full black eyes,
Soft as the dove's and rich in starry light
As the gazelle's. So to the fountain bending,
They dipped their pictured vases, and then rose
And sprinkled all their wreaths, and bade them hang
Fresh till the coming dawn,—then round the tomb
They linked their hands, and, slowly moving, sang
Their pious hymn.

“O, weave the poet's tomb with flowers,
And bring it water from the spring;
And ever with the dawning day,
O, let us haunt these lonely bowers,
And on our withering garlands fling
The freshening dew of Mosellay.

“He best deserves a maiden's heart,
Who teaches best her heart to love.
O, how can she so well repay
The bard who taught the gentle art?
O, can she give him aught above
The freshening dew of Mosellay?

“He loved this calm and cool retreat,
And with his friend and mistress oft
In music passed the summer day.
In vain the noonbeam fiercely beat,—
He only felt it murmuring soft,
The gushing dew of Mosellay.

“And then he crowned his bowl with wine,
And pressed it to his maiden's lip,—
She smiled, and moved the gift away.
A maiden, who would seem divine,
Had better fill her bowl, and sip
The freshening dew of Mosellay.

“O gentle bard of joy and love!
A gentle heart can only feel
Thy sweetness, and alone repay.
O, may we, like the trembling dove,
From care and tumult often steal
Beneath the bowers of Mosellay.”

Another change:—The desert,
Wide as an ocean, indistinct and dim
Beneath the moon, now full, but hanging low
In the pale west. A well,—its clustered palms,
Tall columns, throwing far upon the sands
Their shadows, and the stars between their leaves
Coming and going. All beneath in sleep,—
A wandering tribe, stretched round the stifled glow
Of a half-covered fire, and quietly
Behind them in a circle, deep reposing,
Their only friends, their camels and their steeds,
Harnessed and ready. Not unguarded rest
The wanderers, but a sentinel apart,
With spear uplifted, watches through the night,
With the keen tiger's instinct, and afar
Catches the faintest sound, and quick espies
The smallest creature, on the very verge
Of the encircling waste. There on his watch,
I hear him cheat his weary hours, with tales
Slow chanted, and with songs of love and sorrow,
The treasures of his tribe, from age to age
Transmitted even with awe. A mournful air.
Well suited to his utter loneliness,
Is now his pastime; sung so faint and low,
It rather seems but sighs,—some captive's song,
In a far distant land.

“My father's tent is far away,
And they are weeping there;
And often, often do they say,
‘Where is our Kaled, where?’

“My master tells me to forget
My home, my own dear home:—
‘Why wouldst thou close thy heart, nor let
Another fondness come?’

“And Leila, then, his dark-eyed girl,
Sits blushing by her sire,—
I know that sire is not a churl;
Can love be pointed higher?

“But Leila, fair and sweet and young,
And gentle as a fawn,—
Though fairer poet never sung,
Though fresh as early dawn,—

“O Leila, think not of my heart,—
I left my heart at home;
O, from my home it could not part,—
My spirit could not roam.

“A fairer and a sweeter one
Has all my fondness there,—
And, ‘Oh!’ she often sighs alone,
‘Where is my Kaled, where?’”

Another change:—
A valley, freshly green, and girdled round
With white rocks, tufted o'er with feathery ferns
And rambling vines, and at their foot a cave,
The issue of a spring, clear bubbling out
In a perennial flow. Religious hands
Have arched it over, for a fount, a well,
In such a thirsty land, is loved and cherished,
As a choice gift of Heaven. A date-tree bends
Its clustered fruit, and nard and cassia scent
The ever dewy air. The bibulous turf
Catches the rolling moisture, as it glances
O'er the bright pebbles, down the winding dell,
Till one intensest verdure tapestries
The level lawn. Between the parting hills,
Off-stretching into dimness, opens out
A sweep of plain, spotted with clumps of palms,
White cottages and dove-cotes, avenues
Of sycamores, and woods of olives blue
With their autumnal load, and vineyards hung
On the slope mountains; in the midst, the walls,
And towers, and temple-tops, and pinnacles
Of a wide city, sitting like a queen
Amid her beautiful fields, and shining bright
In the low evening sun. Around it flows
A wandering river, hidden now beneath
Its willows, now outflashing like a gush
From the tapped furnace, now its course revealing,
By wilderness and garden, ever fed
From out its quickening wave,—still further winding,
Like a gilt serpent, through a naked plain,
On to a lake, now bright, but dimly fading
Into a boundless blue. Up in that cove,
On whose encircling battlements the cedar
Nods to the evening wind, and the set sun
Gilds with a fringe of gold the tall, gray rocks,
Now glittering, though beneath them all is dim
And shadowy cool,—up in that cove, a tent
Is planted for the night, and round it throng
A shepherd's train,—his children and his dogs
Busy at play, his ruminant sheep reposing
Under the shelving walls, with here and there
A lordly ram, gazing upon his likeness
In the deep, mirrored pool, and seeming half
Intent on war,—a patriarchal scene,
Like that of old, when Abraham fed his flocks
In Mamre. 'T is the hour of evening prayer.
A reverent pause,—and then the loud, clear voice
Comes up amid those rocks, to Him who rules
Alone in heaven, and after it a hymn
Low sung by gentle voices. From the tent
Flows the soft melody, more touching sweet
For the veiled mystery within whose shade
So much of beauty breathes.
With that low hymn
Came darkness to my dream; and all the pomp
Of mountain, forest, vale, and ocean faded
Slowly and solemnly away, and vanished
In utter gloom. As after many a train
Of bright illusions, cities, camps, and caves,
Dark robbers, helmed hosts, and monarchs seated
Proud on their thrones,—after gay sights and sounds,
The measured march, the merry dance, the rush
And clash of battle,—when the eye is fixed
Intensely on the full catastrophe,
Glad for relief, yet lingering o'er the scene
Of false but real woe,—slowly descend
The curtain's massy folds, and, to t
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