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Night has its fear:
As the slow dusk advances, and the day
Fades out in fire along the starry way,
The ancient doubt draws near.
Vague shapes of dread—
Soft owl, or moth, and timid, twittering things—
Move through the growing dark; on furtive wings
The bat flits overhead.
And in the house
The death-watch ticks, the dust of time is stirred
With timorous footfalls, in the night is heard
The gnawing of the mouse.
Through the old room
What phantoms throng, what shapes that to and fro
Tremble, and lips that laughed here long ago—
Gone back into the gloom!
Bleakly across the baleful country cries
From a blurred mouth; and from the west replies
Echo—and all is still.
Now from her shell,
Her body’s prison, with the ancient doubt
And terror stricken, the scared soul looks out,
Asking if all be well.
Great kings have been,
Poets, and mighty prophets—shapes have cried
About the world, or moved in mournful pride;
And are no longer seen.
From many lands
Their plaint was lifted; from how many a shore
Sorrows have wailed, that are not any more!
They sleep with folded hands.
They have their day:
Their cry is loud about the earth, who come
To the one end; the singing lips grow dumb
Always in the one way.
Though they implore,
Brief is the plea, inflexible the fate!
Silence has the last word; and then—the great
The fretful spirit in bewilderment
Quickens with a vague doubt, and, not content,
Broods—and is ill at ease.
Her being is
Throned on so frail a pulse; such fleeting breath
Bears up her dream across the gulf of death
And the obscure abyss.
Always she hears
The hurtling chariots of the hurrying blood,
Her shuttling breath that in the solitude
Weaves the one self she wears.
Now first the vast
Veil over heaven is rent, and bares the whole
Shining Reality; whereat the soul
Sickens, and is aghast!
The tragic truth; her will sinks hopeless wings
Before the inexorable Fact of things,
Humbling the dread she feels.
With the old Awes
Confronted and the flaming Mystery,
She may not speak; but pondering, suddenly
Grows silent, and withdraws.
She may not bear
That sight: the spangled heavens, from east to west,
Stretch out too wide the confines of the breast,
Straining in wonder there.
Upon what Brow
Of awful eminence—O thought that stuns!—
Is laid that chaplet of a million suns,
Upon what Forehead now?
Who was it wrought
This universal glory all around,
Of glittering worlds forever without bound?—
Great Poet, what a Thought!
It is a Word
Unutterable that is written there;
The spirit, gazing, is one voiceless prayer,
Careless if it be heard.
Her thoughts ascend,
Star beyond star, height beyond aching height
Upward, in adoration infinite,
Forever, without end.
So shall it be!
Till heaven yield her sceptre; till the throne
Of night be shaken, and the Face be known
Till God divide
And rend asunder the embroidered hem
Of darkness; till the starry diadem
And crown be set aside!