DREAMS.

WHAT words are these that shudder through my sleep,

Changing from silver into crimson flakes,

And molten into gold

Like the pale opal through those gray may sweep

A scarlet flame, like eyes of crested snakes,

Keen, furious, and too cold.

What words are these? The pall of slumber lifts;

The veil of finiteness withdraws. The night

Is heavier, life burns low: {103B}


Yet to the quivering brain three goodly gifts

The cruelty of Pluto and his might

In the abyss bestow:

Change, foresight, fear. The pageant whirls and boils;

Restricted not by space and time, my dream

Foresees the doom of Fate;

My spirit wrestles in the Dream-King’s toils

Always in vain, and Hope’s forerunners gleam

Alway one step too late.

Not as when sunlight strikes the counterpane;

Half wakening, sleep rolls back her iron wave,

And dawn brings blithesomeness;

Not as when opiates lull the tortured brain

And sprinkle lotus on the drowsy grave

Of earth’s old bitterness;

But as when consciousness half rouses up

And hurls back all the gibbering harpy crowd;

And sleep’s draught deepeneth,

And all the furies of hell’s belly sup

In the brain’s palaces, and chant aloud

Songs that foretaste of Death.

Maddened, the brain breaks from beneath the goad,

Flings off again the foe, and from its hell

Brings for a moment peace,

Till weariness and her infernal load

Of phantom memory-shapes return to quell

The shaken fortresses.

Till nature reassert her empery,

And the full tide of wakefulness at last

Foam on the shore of sleep

To beat the white cliffs of reality

In vain, because their windy strength is past,

And only memories weep. {104A}


Why is the Finite real? And that world

So larger, so more beautiful and fleet,

So free, so exquisite,

The world of dreams and shadows, not impearled

With solitary shaft of Truth? Too sweet,

O children of the Night,

Are your wide realms for our philosophers,

Who must in hard gray balance-shackles bind

The essence of all thought:

No sorrier sexton in a grave inters

The nobler children of a poet’s mind

Of wine and gold well wrought.

By the poor sense of touch they judge that this

Or that is real or not. Have they divined

This simplest spirit-bond,

The joy of some bad woman’s deadly kiss;

The thought-flash that well tunes a lover’s mind

Seas and gray gulfs beyond?

So that which is impalpable to touch,

They judge by touch; the viewless they decide

By sight; their logic fails,

Their jarring jargon jingles – even such

An empty brazen pot – wise men deride

The clouds that mimic whales.

My world shall be my dreams. Religion there

And duty may disturb me not at all;

Nor doubts, nor fear of death.

I straddle on no haggard ghostly mare;

Yea, through my God, I have leapt o’er a wall!

(As poet David saith.)

The wall that ever girds Earth’s thought with brass

Is all a silver path my feet beneath,

And o’er its level sward {104B}


Of sea-reflecting white flowers and fresh grass

I walk. Man’s darkness is a leathern sheath,

Myself the sun-bright sword!

I have no fear, nor doubt, nor sorrow now,

For I give Self to God – I give my best

Of soul and blood and brain

To my poor Art – there comes to me somehow

This fact; Man’s work is God made manifest;

Life is all Peace again.

And Dreams are beyond life. Their wider scope,

Limitless Empire o’er the world of thought,

Help my desires to press

Beyond all stars toward God and Heaven and Hope;

And in the world-amazing chase is wrought

Somehow – all Happiness.


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