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The Inner Dream
by [?]

Then they sat
Resting with silence, the soul’s inward sleep,
Which feedeth it with strength; till gradually
They grew aware of light, that overcame
The light within, and through the dingy blind,
Cast from the window-frame, two shadow-glooms
That made a cross of darkness on the white,
Dark messenger of light itself unseen.
The woman rose, and half she put aside
The veil that hid the whole of glorious night;
And lo! a wind had mowed the earth-sprung fog;
And lo! on high the white exultant moon
From clear blue window curtained all with white,
Greeted them, at their shadowy window low,
With quiet smile; for two things made her glad:
One that she saw the glory of the sun;
For while the earth lay all athirst for light,
She drank the fountain-waves. The other joy;
Sprung from herself: she fought the darkness well,
Thinning the great cone-shadow of the earth,
Paling its ebon hue with radiant showers
Upon its sloping side. The woman said,
With hopeful look: “To-morrow will be bright
With sunshine for our holiday–to-morrow–
Think! we shall see the green fields in the sun.”
So with hearts hoping for a simple joy,
Yet high withal, being no less than the sun,
They laid them down in nightly death that waits
Patiently for the day.

That sun was high
When they awoke at length. The moon, low down,
Had almost vanished, clothed upon with light;
And night was swallowed up of day. In haste,
Chiding their weariness that leagued with sleep,
They, having clothed themselves in clean attire,
By the low door, stooping with priestly hearts,
Entered God’s vision-room, his wonder-world.

One side the street, the windows all were moons
To light the other that in shadow lay.
The path was almost dry; the wind asleep.
And down the sunny side a woman came
In a red cloak that made the whole street glad–
Fit clothing, though she was so feeble and old;
For when they stopped and asked her how she fared,
She said with cheerful words, and smile that owed
None of its sweetness to an ivory lining:
“I’m always better in the open air.”
“Dear heart!” said they, “how freely she will breathe
In the open air of heaven!” She stood in the morn
Like a belated autumn-flower in spring,
Dazed by the rushing of the new-born life
Up the earth’s winding cavern-stairs to see
Through window-buds the calling, waking sun.
Or as in dreams we meet the ghost of one
Beloved in youth, who walketh with few words,
And they are of the past. Yet, joy to her!
She too from earthy grave was climbing up
Unto the spirit-windows high and far,
She the new life for a celestial spring,
Answering the light that shineth evermore.

With hopeful sadness thus they passed along
Dissolving streets towards the smiles of spring,
Of which green visions gleamed and glided by,
Across far-narrowing avenues of brick:
The ripples only of her laughter float
Through the low winding caverns of the town;
Yet not a stone upon the paven street,
But shareth in the impulse of her joy,
Heaven’s life that thrills anew through the outworn earth;
Descending like the angel that did stir
Bethesda’s pool, and made the sleepy wave
Pulse with quick healing through the withered limb,
In joyous pangs. By an unfinished street,
Forth came they on a wide and level space;
Green fields lay side by side, and hedgerow trees
Stood here and there as waiting for some good.
But no calm river meditated through
The weary flat to the less level sea;
No forest trees on pillared stems and boughs
Bent in great Gothic arches, bore aloft
A cloudy temple-roof of tremulous leaves;
No clear line where the kissing lips of sky
And earth meet undulating, but a haze
That hides–oh, if it hid wild waves! alas!
It hides but fields, it hides but fields and trees!
Save eastward, where a few hills, far away,
Came forth in the sun, or drew back when the clouds
Went over them, dissolving them in shade.
But the life-robe of earth was beautiful,
As all most common things are loveliest;
A forest of green waving fairy trees,
That carpeted the earth for lowly feet,
Bending unto their tread, lowliest of all
Earth’s lowly children born for ministering
Unto the heavenly stranger, stately man;
That he, by subtle service from all kinds,
From every breeze and every bounding wave,
From night-sky cavernous with heaps of storm,
And from the hill rejoicing in the sun,
Might grow a humble, lowly child of God;
Lowly, as knowing his high parentage;
Humble, because all beauties wait on him,
Like lady-servants ministering for love.
And he that hath not rock, and hill, and stream,
Must learn to look for other beauty near;
To know the face of ocean solitudes,
The darkness dashed with glory, and the shades
Wind-fretted, and the mingled tints upthrown
From shallow bed, or raining from the sky.
And he that hath not ocean, and dwells low,
Not hill-befriended, if his eyes have ceased
To drink enjoyment from the billowy grass,
And from the road-side flower (like one who dwells
With homely features round him every day,
And so takes refuge in the loving eyes
Which are their heaven, the dwelling-place of light),
Must straightway lift his eyes unto the heavens,
Like God’s great palette, where His artist hand
Never can strike the brush, but beauty wakes;
Vast sweepy comet-curves, that net the soul
In pleasure; endless sky-stairs; patient clouds,
White till they blush at the sun’s goodnight kiss;
And filmy pallours, and great mountain crags.
But beyond all, absorbing all the rest,
Lies the great heaven, the expression of deep space,
Foreshortened to a vaulted dome of blue;
The Infinite, crowded in a single glance,
Where yet the eye descends depth within depth;
Like mystery of Truth, clothed in high form,
Evasive, spiritual, no limiting,
But something that denies an end, and yet
Can be beheld by wondering human eyes.
There looking up, one well may feel how vain
To search for God in this vast wilderness!
For over him would arch void depth for ever;
Nor ever would he find a God or Heaven,
Though lifting wings were his to soar abroad
Through boundless heights of space; or eyes to dive
To microscopic depths: he would come back,
And say, There is no God; and sit and weep;
Till in his heart a child’s voice woke and cried,
Father! my Father! Then the face of God
Breaks forth with eyes, everywhere, suddenly
And not a space of blue, nor floating cloud,
Nor grassy vale, nor distant purple height,
But, trembling with a presence all divine,
Says, Here I am, my child.