The Unicorn

Compassed about by the miraculous show
Of twenty million stars night after night
So thick the zenith stood one powdered white, —
Over the vast, star-haunted wastes he ran,
The lonely Unicorn
Far from the swarming, small affairs of Man, —
Alone, but not forlorn!

Mateless, he throve, not heeding love nor hate;
Unwinged he fled, yet cousin unto Speed;
Of nothing but his own Dream he had need,
Bearing his single horn of stalwartness:
Where ruined cities lay
And broken temples in the wilderness
His fancy ran in play.

Systems and gods and empires fled his dream;
He clove philosophies with spurning feet;
He plunged where mights and wonders had their seat;
He broke all nets of silver and of gold
That all the tribes flung out
As down from heaven where the dim hills fold
He rushed, the world to flout...

" Where are the nets with which to catch this fool, —
Bright fool and vagrant visitant from God,
Whose roving spirit will not kiss the rod? " ...
The rulers offered an absurd reward —
His swift self, to the one
Who took this beast that their contentment marred
Beneath their usual sun:

" We cannot share the Dream he brings to us
Of things that are so much more vast than we —
Colossi propping up infinity
Star-stippled; Mayan horologes mocking Time:
For you, who find the charm,
We'll make your days as sweet as some old rhyme —
Make half the world, your farm! " ...

Then thronged the seekers of the cheapened gift,
Throwing their lassoes in a sudden rain;
They laid their snares but laid their snares in vain;
The great horn carried furrowing through space,
Piercing their pretence through —
A ship with rigging exquisite as lace,
It bore into the Blue!...

They say at last they brought a maiden out,
One who had never kissed nor known a man, —
Even this, they tried; but still the Unicorn ran
Onward and onward, trampling cities down,
Orgies of steel and steam —
No soft hand made him life's domestic clown,
This Lord of His Own Dream....

They pray that he will still run straightway on,
This being who escaped their utmost snare
And broke beyond them into starry air:
But, like the comet that the centuries turn,
Ever he comes again,
Nearer and nearer down their skies to burn,
Plaguing the world's dull men.
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