THE SILENCE OF AMOR
"Are they gone, these twain, who loved with deathless love. Or is this a dream that I have dreamed.
"Afar in an island-sanctuary that I shall not see again, where the wind chants the blind oblivious rune of Time, I have heard the grasses whisper:
Time never was, Time is not."
"ULA AND URLA."
There is one word never spoken in these estrays of passion and longing. But you, White
Flower of these fugitive blossoms, know it: for the rustle of the wings of Amor awakens
you at dawn, and in the last quietudes of the dark your heart is his dear Haven of dream.
THE SHADOWY WOODLANDS
Above the shadowy woodlands I hear the voice of the cuckoo,
AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
At the rising of the moon I heard the falling echo of a
song, down by the linn where the wild brier hangs over the swirling foam. Ah, swirling
foam, ah, poignant breath of the wild brier, now that I hear no haunting-sweet echo of a
falling song at the rising of the moon.
By dim, mauve and. dream-white bushes of lilac I pass to
the cypress alley, and to the mere which lies breathless in the moonshine. A fish leaps, a
momentary flame of fire. Then all is still again on the moonlit mere, where, breathless,
it lies beyond the cypress alley. In the vague moonshine of the cypress alley I pass
again, a silent shadow, by the dim, mauve and dream-white bushes of lilac.
LANCES OF GOLD
The afternoon has drowsed through the sun-flood. The green leaves have
grown golden, saturated with light. And now, at the sudden whirling of the lances of gold,
a cloud of wild-doves arises from the pines, wheels against the sunblaze, and flashes out
of sight, flames of purple and rose, of foam-white and pink. I know the green hidden nests
of the wild-doves, when ye come again, O whirling lances of gold!
Low upon a pine-branch a nightjar leans and sings his
churring song. He sings his churring song to his mate, who, poised upon a juniper hard by,
listens with quivering wings.
THE TWILIT WATERS
Upon the dim seas in the twilight I hear the tide forging slowly through
the still waters. There is not a sound else: neither the scream of a sea-mew, nor the
harsh cry of the heron, nor the idle song of the wind: only the steadfast forging of the
tide through the still waters of the twilit seas. O steadfast onward tide, O
gloaming-hidden palpitating seas!
Oceanward, the sea-horses sweep magnificently, champing and
whirling white foam about their green flanks, and tossing on high their manes of
sunlit rainbow-gold, dazzling white and multitudinous far as sight can reach. O champing
horses of my soul, toss, toss, on high your sunlit manes, your manes of rainbow-gold,
dazzling white and multitudinous- for I too rejoice, rejoice!
GREY AND ROSE
I watched the greying of the dawn suspiring into rose. Then a yellow
ripple came out of the narrow corrie at the summit of the hill. The yellow ripple ran like
the running tide through the flushing grey, and washed in among the sprays of a birch
beside me and among the rowan-clusters of a mountain-ash. But at the falling of the sun
the yellow ripple was an ebbing tide, and the sprays of the birch were as a perishing
flame and the rowan.-berries were red as drops of blood. Thereafter I watched the rose
slow fading into the grey veils of dusk.
To-day, as I walked at high noon, listening to the larks
filling the April blue with a spray of delicate song, I saw a shadow pass me, where no one
was, and where nothing moved, above me or around. It was not my shadow that passed me, nor
the shadow of one for whom I longed. That other shadow came not. I have heard that there
is a god clothed in shadow who goes to and fro among the human kind, putting silence
between hearts with his waving hands, and breathing a chill out of his cold breath, and
leaving a gulf as of deep waters flowing between them because of the passing of his feet.
Thus, thus it was that that other shadow for which I longed came not. Yet, in the April
blue I heard the wild aërial chimes of song, and watched the golden fulfilment of the day
under the high, illimitable arch of noon.
Long, long ago, a white merle flew out of
Eden. Its song has been in the world ever since, but few there are who have seen the flash
of its white wings through the green-gloom of the living wood--the sun-splashed,
rain-drenched, mist-girt, storm-beat wood of human life.
I saw the Weaver of Dream, an immortal shape of star-eyed
Silence; and the Weaver of Death, a lovely Dusk with a heart of hidden flame: and each
wove with the shuttles of Beauty and Wonder and Mystery. I knew not which was the more
fair: for Death seemed to me as Love, and in the eyes of Dream I saw Joy. Oh, come, come
to me, Weaver of Dream! Come, come unto me, O Lovely Dusk, thou that hast the heart of
WEAVER OF HOPE
Again I saw a beautiful lordly one. He, too, lifted
the three shuttles of Beauty and Wonder and Mystery, and wove a mist of rainbows. Rainbow
after rainbow he wrought out of the mist of glory that he made, and sent each forth to
drift across the desert of the human soul, and o'er every haunted valley of defeated
dreams. O drifting rainbows of Hope, I know a pale place, a haunted valley of defeated
THE GOLDEN TIDES
The moon lay low above the sea, and all the flowing gold
and flashing silver of the rippling, running water seemed to be a flood going that way and
falling into the shining hollow of the moon. Oh, that the tides of my heart, for ever
flowing one way, might fall to rest in the hollow of a golden moon.
A pale golden flame illumines the suspended billows of the forest. Star
after star emerges, where the moongold laps the velvet-soft shores of dusk. Slowly the
yellowing flame arises like smoke among the dark-blue depths. The white rays of the stars
wander over the moveless, over the shadowless and breathless green lawns of the tree-tops.
Oh, would that I were a star lost deep within the paling yellow flame that illumes the
suspended billows of the forest.
THE REED PLAYER
I saw one put a hollow reed to his lips. It was a forlorn,
sweet air that he played, an ancient forgotten strain learned of a shepherding woman upon
the hills. The Song of Songs it was that he played: and the beating of hearts was, heard,
and I heard sighs, and a voice like a distant bird-song rose and fell.
I heard the voice of the wind among the pines. It was as the tide coming
over smooth sands. On the red pine-boles the sun flamed goldenly out of the west. In
falling cadences the cuckoos called across the tides of light. In dreams, now, I hear the
cuckoos calling across a dim sea of light, there where a sun that never rose nor set
flames goldenly upon ancient trees, in whose midst the wind goes sighingly, with a sound
as of the tide slipping swift over smooth sands. And I hear a solitary voice singing
there, where I stand beside the gold-flamed pine-boles and look with hungry eyes against
the light of a sun that never rose nor set.
THE WILD BEES
There was a man, seeking Peace, who found a precious
treasure in the heather, when the bells were sweet with honey-ooze. Did the wild bees know
of it? Would that I could hear the soft hum of their gauzy wings. Where blooms that
heather, and what wind is it that moveth the bells that are sweet with the honey-ooze?
Only the wild bees know of it; but I think they must be the bees of Magh-Mell, the bees
that make a sweet sound in the drowsy ears of those who beneath the heather have indeed
found rest by the dim waysides of Peace.
The rain has ceased falling softly through the dusk. A cool green wind
flows through the deeps of air. The stars are as windwhirled fruit blown upward from the
treetops. Full-orbed, and with a pulse of flame, the moon leads a tide of quiet light over
the brown shores of the world. But here, here where I stand upon the brown shores
of the world, in the shine of that quiet flame where, full-orbed, the moon uplifts the
dark, I think only of the stars as wind-whirled fruit blown upward from the tree-tops. I
think only of that wind that blew upon the tree-tops, where the whirling stars spun in a
mazy dance, when, at last, the rain had ceased falling softly through the dusk.
I dreamed of Orchil, the dim goddess who is under the brown
earth, in a vast cavern, where she weaves at two looms. With one hand she weaves life
upward through the grass; with the other she weaves death downward through the mould; and
the sound of the weaving is Eternity, and the name of it in the green world is Time. And,
through all, Orchil weaves the weft of Eternal Beauty, that passeth not, though its soul
is Change. This is my comfort, O Beauty that art of Time, who am faint and hopeless in the
strong sound of that other weaving, where Orchil, the dim goddess, sits dreaming at her
loom under the brown earth.
I see the lift of the dark, the lovely advance of the lunar twilight,
the miracle of the yellow bloom--golden here and here white as frost-fire--upon sea and
land. I see, and yet see not. I hear the muffled voice of ocean and soft recurrent
whisperings of the foam-white runners at my feet: I hear, and yet hear not. But one sound,
one voice, I hear; one gleam, one vision, I see:
In the heart of the shell a wild-rose flush lies shut from
wind or wave; lies close, and dreams to the unceasing lullaby that the seashell sings. O
would that I were that wild-rose flush, shut close from wind or wave: O would that I were
that wild-rose flush to dream for ever to the unceasing song my sea-shell sings.
THE WHITE PROCESSION
One by one the stars come forth--solemn eyes watching for ever the white
procession move onward orderly where there is neither height, nor depth, nor beginning,
nor end. In the vast stellar space the moonglow wanes until it grows cold, white,
ineffably remote. Only upon our little dusky earth, upon our restless span of waters, the
light descends in a tender warmth. Deep gladness to me, though but the creature of an
hour, that I am on this little moonlit dusky earth. Too cold, too white, too ineffably
remote the moonglow in these vast wastes of Infinity where, one by one, the constellations
roam--solemn witnesses watching for ever the white procession move onward orderly where
there is neither height, nor depth, nor beginning, nor end.
Through the blue deeps of noon I heard the cuckoo tolling
his infrequent peals from skiey belfries built of sun and mist. And now, through the blue
deeps of night, from skiey belfries built of dusk and stars, I hear the tolling of
THE HILLS OF DREAM
The tide of noon is upon the hills. Amid leagues of purple heather, of
pate amethyst ling, stand isled great yellow-lichened granite boulders, fringed with tawny
bracken. In the vast dome of blue there is nought visible save a speck of white, a gannet
that drifts above the invisible sea. And through the hot tide of noon goes a breath as of
the heart of flame. Far off, far off, I know dim hills of dream, and there my heart
suspends as a white bird longing for home: and there, oh there, is a heart of flame, and
the breath of it is as the tide of noon upon these hills of dream.
THE TWO ETERNITIES
Time never was, Time is not. Thus I heard. the grasses
whisper, the green lips of the wind that chants the blind oblivious rune of Time, far in
that island-sanctuary that I shall not see again. Time never was, Time is not. O Time that
zFOREWORD TO THE ORIGINAL EDITIONz
These prose rhythms, written a year or two earlier, were first published in 1896, at
the end of the volume of verse From the Hills of Dream. They were taken by many
reviewers to be prose-poems. I do not call them so, for I think the designation a mistake.
Prose is prose, and poetry is poetry. The two arts are distinct, though they may lie so
close in method and achievement as to seem to differ only in degree. But it is possible to
widen the marches of the one, as it is possible for the rash to cross the frontiers of the
other. I do not know who was the first to attempt the illusion of poetry in the signature
of prose, but Turgéniev stands eminent, and Baudelaire added a subtler artifice to the
simple emotional statement of the great Russian. The most famous user of "free
verse" is, of course, Whitman. This is not the place or occasion to discuss these
problems in detail. Each is either a real art or a fantastical and mistaken aberration
from art-disordered prose or lawless verse-in accordance with the conviction of the critic
that the artifice of prose and the artifice of prosody are as allied as the music of viola
and violin, or the conviction that they are as different in kind as the art of the
sculptor and the aquarellist.
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