A Fragment

It is the noon of night, — the stars look faint
With their long watching, and the slumbering earth
Heaves not a breath, — the very air is still, —
The waters hush their voices, and the leaf
Hangs silent in the woods. No living thing
Looks on the sleep of nature; — I alone
Sit like a sentinel, and feel how calm
And beautiful is night.

I have thus often sat, and deep in thought
Outwatched the stars; have seen their fires grow dim,
Till the young morning stood upon the hills
Wreathed with her dewy roses. I the while
Have fed my spirit on the inspiring dreams
Of the olden time, and with inquisitive eye
Pried in the depths of nature. I have gained
Much doubt and little certainty; have lost
Youth and its innocent joys, and blanched my hairs,
Even in my newest prime.

But I have gained a mastery o'er spirits,
And can evoke them from their secret caves,
Or from the viewless regions of the air,
And call them at my bidding. It is so.
I have seen glorious creatures throng around me,
All loveliness and light. They were not dreams,
But were substantial essences, pure forms,
That had a look and voice. I spake to them,
And they did answer, and their tones were music,
Such as they say the harmony of spheres,
When the seven orbs move round the golden sun,
Hymning too deep and ravishing melodies
For mortal ear to listen to, and live.
They spake, or rather chanted, and their song
Revealed a mystery so high, methought
The fountains of all knowledge opened up
To meet my gaze, and from their hidden caves
Came forth the darkest elements of things,
And stood before my presence.
I will try
Once more the potency of muttered charms,
And they shall come in their particular forms,
And do as I shall bid them.

Spirits! if ye are such, I do command ye,
From your most secret hiding-place come forth,
And be apparent to me. Spirit of light!
From the clear concave of the southern sky,
The world of elemental flame; and thou
Whose dwelling is the abyss of rolling waters;
And thou who lurkest deep in central caves;
And thou, light-footed messenger of Heaven,
Whose way is in the thin and empty air;
I challenge your obedience.
Hear ye not?
There is no sound to interrupt my voice,
And yet I have no answer. Comes there not
New brightness from the south? The very air
Burns with the living glory. Haste, thou spirit
Of most celestial beauty! I have loved thee,
And worshipped thee, when thou didst come at morning,
Scattering thy light on earth, and kindling heaven,
And wakening all to life. Dost thou not come;
Or is it only that the moon looks out,
In her unstained and virgin loveliness,
From the white cloud that dimmed her like a veil?
'T is so. I have dreamed myself to the belief
Of my own crowding fancies, and have made
The visions of my brain realities.
But no! there is a sound on the far waters;
A form is rising from their depths, and shedding
Brightness on the blue waves. It fades, — and now
There is no other light shed on the waters,
Than that beneath the moon, or some lone star
Deep sunk amid their darkness. Ye have vanished,
Dreams of delight and power! Ye gave to me
All I have known of joy; for in the sense
Of power I dwelt delighted: and though dreams,
Baseless and empty dreams, ye had to me
The force of strong reality, and made me,
In the chill winter of untimely age,
Even too happy. O, there was a spell
In the belief that some unearthly spirit
Held high communion with me, and informed
My heart to higher deeds, and gave revealings
Of a sublime futurity, and fed
Those hopes that lend even to the grave a charm.

But I have tried them, and have found them vain.
I have sought wisdom, and for this have pored
Over the blind imaginings of man,
And racked unwilling nature to reveal
A few half-hidden laws. In the vain search,
Age has come on me, and the proper joys,
Of youth are lost for ever. O, how gladly
Would I resign all I have ever gained,
Or hoped to gain, of knowledge or of power,
For a few moments of the innocent gladness
A young heart feels, when the pure bloom of health
Runs o'er the cheek, and all things look of love.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.