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The Story
by [?]

O happy those for whom the Possible
Opens its gates of madness, and becomes
The Real around them! those to whom henceforth
There is but one to-morrow, the next morn,
Their wedding day, ever one step removed;
The husband’s foot ever upon the verge
Of the day’s threshold; whiteness aye, and flowers,
Ready to meet him, ever in a dream!
But faith and expectation conquer still;
And so her morrow comes at last, and leads
The death-pale maiden-ghost, dazzled, confused,
Into the land whose shadows fall on ours,
And are our dreams of too deep blessedness.
May not some madness be a kind of faith?
Shall not the Possible become the Real?
Lives not the God who hath created dreams?
So stand we questioning upon the shore,
And gazing hopeful towards the Unrevealed.

Long looked the maiden, till the visible
Half vanished from her eyes; the earth had ceased
That lay behind her, and the sea was all;
Except the narrow shore, which yet gave room
For her sea-haunting feet; where solid land,
Where rocks and hills stopped, frighted, suddenly,
And earth flowed henceforth on in trembling waves,
A featureless, a half re-molten world,
Halfway to the Unseen; the Invisible
Half seen in the condensed and flowing sky
Which lay so grimly smooth before her eyes
And brain and shrinking soul; where power of man
Could never heap up moles or pyramids,
Or dig a valley in the unstable gulf
Fighting for aye to make invisible,
To swallow up, and keep her smooth blue smile
Unwrinkled and unspotted with the land;
Not all the changes on the restless wave,
Saving it from a still monotony,
Whose only utterance was a dreary song
Of stifled wailing on the shrinking shore.

Such frenzy slow invaded the poor girl.
Not hers the hovering sense of marriage bells
Tuning the air with fragrance of sweet sound;
But the low dirge that ever rose and died,
Recurring without pause or any close,
Like one verse chaunted aye in sleepless brain.
Down to the shore it drew her from the heights,
Like witch’s demon-spell, that fearful moan.
She knew that somewhere in the green abyss
His body swung in curves of watery force,
Now in a circle slow revolved, and now
Swaying like wind-swung bell, when surface waves
Sank their roots deep enough to reach the waif,
Hither and thither, idly to and fro,
Wandering unheeding through the heedless sea.
A kind of fascination seized her brain,
And drew her onward to the ridgy rocks
That ran a little way into the deep,
Like questions asked of Fate by longing hearts,
Bound which the eternal ocean breaks in sighs.
Along their flats, and furrows, and jagged backs,
Out to the lonely point where the green mass
Arose and sank, heaved slow and forceful, she
Went; and recoiled in terror; ever drawn,
Ever repelled, with inward shuddering
At the great, heartless, miserable depth.
She thought the ocean lay in wait for her,
Enticing her with horror’s glittering eye,
And with the hope that in an hour sure fixed
In some far century, aeons remote,
She, conscious still of love, despite the sea,
Should, in the washing of perennial waves,
Sweep o’er some stray bone, or transformed dust
Of him who loved her on this happy earth,
Known by a dreamy thrill in thawing nerves.
For so the fragments of wild songs she sung
Betokened, as she sat and watched the tide,
Till, as it slowly grew, it touched her feet;
When terror overcame–she rose and fled
Towards the shore with fear-bewildered eye;
And, stumbling on the rocks with hasty steps,
Cried, “They are coming, coming at my heels.”