A Microcosm In Terza Rima.
Quiet I lay at last, and knew no more
Whether I breathed or not, so worn I lay
With the death-struggle. What was yet before
Neither I met, nor turned from it away;
My only conscious being was the rest
Of pain gone dead–dead with the bygone day,
And long I could have lingered all but blest
In that half-slumber. But there came a sound
As of a door that opened–in the west
Somewhere I thought it. As the hare the hound,
The noise did start my eyelids and they rose.
I turned my eyes and looked. Then straight I found
It was my chamber-door that did unclose,
For a tall form up to my bedside drew.
Grand was it, silent, its very walk repose;
And when I saw the countenance, I knew
That I was lying in my chamber dead;
For this my brother–brothers such are few–
That now to greet me bowed his kingly head,
Had, many years agone, like holy dove
Returning, from his friends and kindred sped,
And, leaving memories of mournful love,
Passed vanishing behind the unseen veil;
And though I loved him, all high words above.
Not for his loss then did I weep or wail,
Knowing that here we live but in a tent,
And, seeking home, shall find it without fail.
Feeble but eager, toward him my hands went–
I too was dead, so might the dead embrace!
Taking me by the shoulders down he bent,
And lifted me. I was in sickly case,
But, growing stronger, stood up on the floor,
There turned, and once regarded my dead face
With curious eyes: its brow contentment wore,
But I had done with it, and turned away.
I saw my brother by the open door,
And followed him out into the night blue-gray.
The houses stood up hard in limpid air,
The moon hung in the heavens in half decay,
And all the world to my bare feet lay bare.
Now I had suffered in my life, as they
Must suffer, and by slow years younger grow,
From whom the false fool-self must drop away,
Compact of greed and fear, which, gathered slow,
Darkens the angel-self that, evermore,
Where no vain phantom in or out shall go,
Moveless beholds the Father–stands before
The throne of revelation, waiting there,
With wings low-drooping on the sapphire-floor,
Until it find the Father’s ideal fair,
And be itself at last: not one small thorn
Shall needless any pilgrim’s garments tear;
And but to say I had suffered I would scorn
Save for the marvellous thing that next befell:
Sudden I grew aware I was new-born;
All pain had vanished in the absorbent swell
Of some exalting peace that was my own;
As the moon dwelt in heaven did calmness dwell
At home in me, essential. The earth’s moan
Lay all behind. Had I then lost my part
In human griefs, dear part with them that groan?
“‘Tis weariness!” I said; but with a start
That set it trembling and yet brake it not,
I found the peace was love. Oh, my rich heart!
For, every time I spied a glimmering spot
Of window pane, “There, in that silent room,”
Thought I, “mayhap sleeps human heart whose lot
Is therefore dear to mine!” I cared for whom
I saw not, had not seen, and might not see!
After the love crept prone its shadow-gloom,
But instant a mightier love arose in me,
As in an ocean a single wave will swell,
And heaved the shadow to the centre: we
Had called it prayer, before on sleep I fell.
It sank, and left my sea in holy calm:
I gave each man to God, and all was well.
And in my heart stirred soft a sleeping psalm.