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Somnium Mystici
by [?]


No gentlest murmur through the city crept;
Not one lone word my brother to me had spoken;
But when beyond the city-gate we stept
I knew the hovering silence would be broken.
A low night wind came whispering: through and through
It did baptize me with the pledge and token
Of that soft spirit-wind which blows and blew
And fans the human world since evermore.
The very grass, cool to my feet, I knew
To be love also, and with the love I bore
To hold far sympathy, silent and sweet,
As having known the secret from of yore
In the eternal heart where all things meet,
Feelings and thinkings, and where still they are bred.
Sudden he stood, and with arrested feet
I also. Like a half-sunned orb, his head
Slow turned the bright side: lo, the brother-smile
That ancient human glory on me shed
Clothed in which Jesus came forth to wile
Unto his bosom every labouring soul,
And all dividing passions to beguile
To winsome death, and then on them to roll
The blessed stone of the holy sepulchre!
“Thank God,” he said, “thou also now art whole
And sound and well! For the keen pain, and stir
Uneasy, and sore grief that came to us all,
In that we knew not how the wine and myrrh
Could ever from the vinegar and gall
Be parted, are deep sunk, yea drowned in God;
And yet the past not folded in a pall,
But breathed upon, like Aaron’s withered rod,
By a sweet light that brings the blossoms through,
Showing in dreariest paths that men have trod
Another’s foot-prints, spotted of crimson hue,
Still on before wherever theirs did wend;
Yea, through the desert leading, of thyme and rue,
The desert souls in which young lions rend
And roar–the passionate who, to be blest,
Ravin as bears, and do not gain their end,
Because that, save in God, there is no rest.”


Something my brother said to me like this,
But how unlike it also, think, I pray:
His eyes were music, and his smile a kiss;
Himself the word, his speech was but a ray
In the clear nimbus that with verity
Of absolute utterance made a home-born day
Of truth about him, lamping solemnly;
And when he paused, there came a swift repose,
Too high, too still to be called ecstasy–
A purple silence, lanced through in the close
By such keen thought that, with a sudden smiling,
It grew sheen silver, hearted with burning rose.
He was a glory full of reconciling,
Of faithfulness, of love with no self-stain,
Of tenderness, and care, and brother-wiling
Back to the bosom of a speechless gain.


I cannot tell how long we joyous talked,
For from my sense old time had vanished quite,
Space dim-remaining–for onward still we walked.
No sun arose to blot the pale, still night–
Still as the night of some great spongy stone
That turns but once an age betwixt the light
And the huge shadow from its own bulk thrown,
And long as that to me before whose face
Visions so many slid, and veils were blown
Aside from the vague vast of Isis’ grace.
Innumerous thoughts yet throng that infinite hour,
And hopes which greater hopes unceasing chase,
For I was all responsive to his power.
I saw my friends weep, wept, and let them weep;
I saw the growth of each grief-nurtured flower;
I saw the gardener watching–in their sleep
Wiping their tears with the napkin he had laid
Wrapped by itself when he climbed Hades’ steep;
What wonder then I saw nor was dismayed!
I saw the dull, degraded monsters nursed
In money-marshes, greedy men that preyed
Upon the helpless, ground the feeblest worst;
Yea all the human chaos, wild and waste,
Where he who will not leave what God hath cursed
Now fruitless wallows, now is stung and chased
By visions lovely and by longings dire.
“But who believeth, he shall not make haste,
Even passing through the water and the fire,
Or sad with memories of a better lot!
He, saved by hope, for all men will desire,
Knowing that God into a mustard-jot
May shut an aeon; give a world that lay
Wombed in its sun, a molten unorbed clot,
One moment from the red rim to spin away
Librating–ages to roll on weary wheel
Ere it turn homeward, almost spent its day!
Who knows love all, time nothing, he shall feel
No anxious heart, shall lift no trembling hand;
Tender as air, but clothed in triple steel,
He for his kind, in every age and land,
Hoping will live; and, to his labour bent,
The Father’s will shall, doing, understand.”
So spake my brother as we onward went:
His words my heart received, as corn the lea,
And answered with a harvest of content.
We came at last upon a lonesome sea.