Still in the dark I lay,
Still in the spangled darkness, very still,
And let my spirit have her way.
On questing she was bent, my little soul;
I held her not from any goal,
Paying the fine thread out and out until
She seemed an elfin lantern on a kite,
Giddily soaring,
Ardently exploring,
Up, up, about, about...
I feared her tender flame would quite go out,
And leave me to unglimmered night.
" Return! " I cried, " Return, O curious mite!
Shine on familiar things,
And like the mud-wasp, winged too but wise,
Content you with your house of clay.
Forego your wings,
They will but carry you to sunless skies,
And spatial silences more dread
Than any heaven-quake hurling down the stars.
Seek not to illumine Death,
Who like a negro Titan darkly dwells
In darkness. Come away!
Ask not whence blows this breath
Nor whither it is sped
When you and I dissever.
Dream you of soothing chat
With gods and avatars?
O glittering gnat!
We are sealed within the womb
Of That which answers not, now, nor perchance forever!
Return unto my breast
And let us rest. "

Sleep quenched us both, but suddenly I was woken,
As though a stinging insect voice had spoken.
" See! See! " it sang. " Your sleep is vain!
There is your tricksy soul soaring again! "

Firefly! darling of the night,
Little, lovely wandering light,
Why from freedom have you come
To the prison of my room?
By what tiny destiny,
Cruel as a larger fate,
Were you driven from your mate
In a sparkling ecstasy?
Now your fitful lamp goes reeling
All along my starless ceiling,
You must wonder where you've flown,
That your heaven has turned to stone!
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