Robert Browning

So, it is well: what need is there to mourn?
What of the darkness was there, of the dread,
Of all the pity of old age forlorn
When the swift mind and hand are though as dead?
Nothing: the change was his that comes to days
When, after long, rich, restful afternoons,
A sudden flush of glory fills the skies:
Thereafter is the peace of dream-fraught moons,
And then, oh! then for sure, in the eastern ways
At morn, once more Life's golden floods arise.
Ay, it is well: what better fate were his?
Why wish for him the twilight-greyness drear?
He hath not known the bitter thing it is
To halt, and doubt, grope blindly, tremble, fear:
The reverend snows above his forehead brought
No ominous hints of that which might not be,
No chill suggestion of the ephemeral soul:
Unto the very end 'twas his to see
Failure no drear climacteric, but wrought
To nobler issues, a victorious goal.

There, where the long lagoons by day and night
Feel the swift journeying tides, in ebb and flow,
Move inward from the deep with sound and light
And splendour of the seas, or outward go
Resurgent from the city that doth rest
Upon the flood even as a swan asleep,
Or as a lily 'niid encircling streams,
Or as a flower a dusky maid doth keep,
An orient maid, upon her love-warm breast,
Thrilled with its inspiration through her dreams —
There, in the city that he loved so well,
And with the sea-sound in his ears, the sound
Of healing waters in their miracle
Of changeless and regenerative round,
The strange and solemn silence that is death
Came o'er him. 'Mid the loved ones near
The deep suspense of the last torturing hope
Hung like a wounded bird, ere swift and sheer
It fall with the last frail exhausted breath
And feeble fluttering wings that cannot ope.

There death was his: within his golden prime,
Painless, serene, unvanquished, undismayed,
He fronted the dark lapse of mortal time
With eyes alit, through all the gathering shade,
With the strange light that clothes immortal things —
Beauty, and Truth, Faith, Hope, and Joy and Peace,
The garnished harvest of our human years,
Fair dreams and hopes that triumphed o'er surcease,
The immaculate sweetness of all bygone Springs,
The rainbow-glory of transfigured tears.

Over him went the Powers, the Dreams, the Graces,
The invisible Dominations that we know
Despite the mystic veil that hides their faces
The immortal faces that divinely glow:
Fair Hope was there to take him by the hand;
White Aspirations smiled about his bed
Desires and Dreams moved gently by his side;
Beauty stooped low, and shone upon the dead;
Joy spake not, for, from out the Deathless land;
She led God's loveliest gift, his long-lost Bride.

Oh, what a trivial mockery then was this,
The change we so involve with alien terror
How lorn in light of that supernal bliss
The ruinous wrecking folly of our error!
Sweet beyond words the meeting that was there,
Sweet beyond words the deep-set yearning gaze,
Sweet, sweet the voice that long had silent been!
Ah, how his soul, beleagured by no maze,
No glooms of Death, i' that Paradisal air
Knew all was well, since She was there, his Queen.

They are not gone, those Dreams, Fair Hopes, and Graces,
Those Powers and Dominations and Desires,
They are not passed, though veiled the immortal faces,
Though dimmed meanwhile their eyes' wild starry fires.
Meanwhile, it may be, on wan wings and slender
Invisible to mortal gaze, they gleam
In solemn, sad, processional array
There where the sunshafts through stained windows stream,
And flood the gloomful majesty with splendour,
And charm the aisles from out their brooding grey.

They are not gone: nor shall they ever vanish,
Those precious ministers of him, our Poet
What madness would it be for one to banish,
To barter his inheritance, forego it,
For some phantasmal gift, some transient boon!
Thus would it be with us were we to turn
Indifferently aside, when they draw nigh,
To look with callous gaze, nor once discern
How swift they come and get, how all too soon
They evade for ever the unheeding eye.

They are not gone: for wheresoe'er there liveth
One hope his song inspired — whom they inspired —
Yea, wheresoever in one heart there breatheth
An aspiration by his ardour fired:
Where'er through him are souls made serfs to Beauty,
Where'er through him hearts stir with lofty aim,
Where'er through him men thrill with high endeavour,
There shall these ministers breathe low his name,
Linked to ideals of Love and Truth and Duty,
And all high things of mind and soul, for ever.

No carven stone, no monumental fane;
Can equal this: that he hath builded deep
A cenotaph beyond the assailing reign
Of Her whose eyes are dusk with Night and Sleep,
Queenly Oblivion: no Pyramid
No vast gigantic Tomb, no sepulchre
Made awful with imag'ries of doom
Evade her hand who one day shall inter
Man's proudest monuments, as she hath hid
The immemorial past within her womb.
For he hath built his lasting monument
Within the hearts and in the minds of men:
The Powers of Life around its base have bent
The Stream of Memory; our furthest ken
Beholds no reach, no limit to its rise;
It hath foundations sure; it shall not pass;
The ruin of Time upon it none shall see,
Till the last wind shall wither the last grass,
Nay, while man's Hopes, Fears, Dreams, and Agonies
Uplift his soul to Immortality.
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