Imogen's Journey


How dost travel, Imogen,
When the trance upon thee lies?
Lo! I shed the influence o'er thee —
How dost travel to the skies?

" On a wonder working steed,
Like the steed in the eastern tale;
I mount his back — I try his speed —
I guide him over hill and dale,
Deftly ever I hold the reins,
And sit in the saddle haughtily;
Over the mountains and over the plains,
Over the land and over the sea."

Imogen, I know thou wanderest
At thy pleasure through the air;
Canst thou tell what thou hast witnessed,
And thy mysteries declare?

" Much I see
Lovingly, —
I feast on the beauty of the earth,
In its sadness, in its mirth,
In its decay, and in its bloom,
In its splendor, in its gloom;
To every clime remote or near
I soar in my saddle and never fear.

" Much I see
Mournfully, —
Want, and ignorance and strife,
And the agonies of death and life;
Intemperance mowing its victims down
In countless hosts through city and town;
And hapless infants, newly born,
Cast on the world to shame and scorn:
Taught to lie, to steal, to swear,
Nurtured in hatred and despair,
Trained in obedience, reckless, and blind
To the worst passions of their kind.

" Much I see
Indignantly, —
The prosperous evil, the suffering good;
And battening, fattening,
Fawning, lying,
God denying,
Pestilent ingratitude.
Sons bringing shame to a father's cheek,
And daughter's doing their mothers wrong;
The strong man trampling on the weak,
The weak man worshipping the strong;
The white man selling the black for a slave
And quoting scripture in his defence,
And giving the money — the holy knave —
In support of pulpit eloquence:
Harsh intolerant Bigotry
Taking the name of Charity;
And Vice, in a masquerading dress,
White robed like virgin loveliness,
Sitting in Virtue's seat, unchallenged,
And passing herself in all men's sight
As a radiant creature
In form and feature,
A visitant of love and light; —
Tyrants ruling,
Wise men fooling,
And stolid Ignorance preaching and schooling:
All this I see
Most mournfully,
And haste to descend to the Earth again,
And rest on the level ground with men.

" But in my trance of yesterday
I was travelling far away;
Far away in the air upborne,
I, clear-seeing Imogen,
Lost myself in the depths serene
Twelve hours eastward of the morn.
The full round Earth beneath me lay
A large bright orb of silvery gray,
The bi-centuple of the moon;
I heard her rolling on her way,
Her tidal oceans pealing a tune,
Sea with sea,
Through the dread Infinity.
And a living voice spake to my soul,
As I watched the mighty planet roll; —
An angel of another sphere,
An alien and a wanderer here;
And spirit to spirit, mind to mind, —
I to him, and he to me —
We spoke together bodilessly,
On the deeds of human kind.

" " Oh, lovely is your world, " he said;
" Behold the glory round it spread,
Behold its oceans, how they shine
Suffused with radiance divine:
Its teeming continents behold —
Its mountain summits fired with gold;
Its gleaming poles of purest white,
Its tropics bathed in fruitful light;
A lovely world, a gorgeous plan —
How fares the brotherhood of man? "

" " The brotherhood of man? " said I,
Mingling a whisper and a sigh: —
" Alas, the Earth, though old in time,
Is young in wisdom: — Brotherhood? —
There is no land in any clime
Where even the word is understood: —
Look below at yon fair isles,
Laving themselves in Ocean's smiles, —
They rule the Earth, yet cannot teach
The simple truth thy words convey, —
Though ever the few dissuade, and preach,
Ever the many fight and slay. "

" " Blind creatures, " said the voice to me,
" If they know not Charity —
But surely they have learned the truth —
That God is love — and growing wise,
They study from their tenderest youth
That holiest of mysteries? "

" " They know it not, " I made reply,
" Of all the swarms that live and die
Upon that wide revolving ball,
The pettiest faction of them all
Has heard that truth: — and of those few
Though hundreds think , the units do .
Aliens, foes, estranged from birth,
Are the nations of the earth;
One to the east of a mountain cope,
Hates the one to the western slope;
One to the left bank of a river,
Pursues with its deadly wrath for ever
The one that prospers on the right,
And works for ever to its despite;
And to the earth's extremest bound,
Brotherhood is nowhere found. "

" " But is there none, " said the voice, " to show
The wrong, the shame, the guilt, the woe,
The fearful madness of such crime?
Is there none with a soul sublime
To open their hearts that they may see
That Love is the law of infinity,
The dominant chord of the mighty seven
That form the harmonies of heaven? "

" Many to teach, but few to hear.
Though scant the boundaries of our sphere,
Truth goes slowly over the zones,
And stumbles over pebble stones.
The laziest worm that ever crept,
Although at each remove it slept,
Would measure the girth of the rolling earth
Ten times o'er, in a tithe of the time
It takes slow-footed Truth to climb
The dense obstructions in its course,
Raised by folly, fraud, or force,
And circle it once from pole to pole;
Never yet, thou wandering soul,
Has one great Truth pierced through the crust
Of universal human dust."

" " It cannot be, " said the voice again:
" Was there never born 'mong men
Th' incarnate God? " " Alas! " I said,
" Look at the Earth — behold it spread
Its countless regions to the day;
Behold — I'll show thee in the ray,
Every little speck of land
Where the truth has made a stand —
I could cover them with my hand.

" " See yon little continent,
And close beside it other two
Of aspect more magnificent,
And large dimensions, looming through
An atmosphere of radiant blue:
The smallest spot alone has heard
The great and civilizing word
That God is Love; and even there
Men hate each other, and declare
Fierce war for difference of degree,
And shadows of divergency
On minor points, and dogmas dim,
That whether we cling to or let fall
Is of no account in the eyes of Him
Who gave a law beyond them all.

" " Ignorance is the lord below; —
Hatred, Bigotry, and Scorn
Do his bidding, and scatter woe
On the climates of the morn:
Do his bidding and high behest
On the regions of the west,
Obey his rules from north to south,
And take their orders from his mouth. "

" " Farewell! " said the voice of the upper air,
" I'll change my track, I'll go not there;
To other planets I will roam,
Where Love and Knowledge find a home. "
" Farewell! " said I, " thou wandering sprite,
I must return to earth ere night,
And bear for awhile, as best I can,
The cold, dull ignorance of man. " "
. . . .
. . . .

Now thou'rt wakened, Imogen,
Dost thou know where thou hast been?
" No," she said, and rubbed her eyes,
And looked around her with surprise,
" I have slept — and I have heard —
Something — nothing — who can tell?
Waking memory knows no word,
And has no sense of what befell.
But when again thy fingers pour
The influence through me, if it chance
That I can summon up once more
The lost ideas of my trance,
I'll tell thee truly what I see,
Wise or foolish, as may be."
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