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Who, surviving all that chancëd
Lay hid, feeding in the woodland on the last true poet's song?
Or was this the house of fairies,
Which the passing pilgrim prays,
And beyond St. Catherine's chiming on the blessed Sabbath days?
So, young muser, I sat listening
To my fancy's wildest word:
On a sudden, through the glistening
Leaves around, a little stirred,
Came a sound, a sense of music which was rather felt than heard.
Softly, finely, it enwound me;
Which with silver waters thin
Clips a little water Naiad sitting smilingly within.
Whence the music came, who knoweth?
I know nothing: but indeed
Pan or Faunus never bloweth
So much sweetness from a reed
Which has sucked the milk of waters at the oldest river
Never lark the sun can waken
With such sweetness! when the lark,
The high planets overtaking
In the half-evanished Dark,
Casts his singing to their singing, like an arrow to the mark.
Never nightingale so singeth :
And her poet-song she flingeth
Over pain to victory!
Yet she never sings such music,-or she sings it not to
Never blackbirds, never thrushes
When the sun strikes through the bushes
To their crimson clinging feet,
And their pretty eyes look sideways to the summer heavens complete.
If it were a bird, it seemëd
Most like Chaucer's, which, in sooth,
He of green and azure dreamëd,
While it sat in spirit-ruth
On that bier of a crowned lady, singing nigh her silent mouth.
Though my soul were nympholeptic
As I heard that virëlay,
You may stoop your pride to pardon, for my sin is far away!
I rose up in exaltation
And an inward trembling heat,
And (it seemed) in geste of passion
Dropped the music to my feet
Like a garment rustling downwards-such a silence
Heart and head beat through the quiet
Full and heavily, though slower :
In the song, I think, and by it,
Mystic Presences of power
Had up-snatched me to the Timeless, then returned me to the Hour.
In a child-abstraction lifted,
In the hill-top's open sunshine I all consciously was
Face to face with the true mountains
I stood silently and still,
Drawing strength from fancy's dauntings,
From the air about the hill,
And from Nature's open mercies and most debonair goodwill.
Oh, the golden-hearted daisies
To the truth of things, with praises
And I woke to Nature's real, laughing joyfully for both.
And I said within me, laughing,
Chance and half in Nature's play;
And a little bird sings nigh it, I will nevermore missay.
"Henceforth, I will be the fairy
Of this bower not built by one;
With each morning's benison,
And the bird shall be my harper in the dream-hall I have
So I said. But the next morning,
'Ware, oh sceptic, of your scorning!
The next morning all had vanished, or my wandering missed the place.
Bring an oath most sylvan-holy,
By the wind-bells swinging slowly
Their mute curfews in the dew,
By the advent of the snow-drop, by the rosemary and
I affirm by all or any,
Let the cause be charm or chance,
That my wandering searches many
That I nevermore upon it turned my mortal countenance.
I affirm that, since I lost it,
Never garden-creeper crossed it
With so deft and brave an air,
Never bird sung in the summer, as I saw and heard them there.
Day by day, with new desire,
Toward my wood I ran in faith,
Under leaf and over brier,
Through the thickets, out of breath;
Like the prince who rescued Beauty from the sleep as long as death.
But his sword of mettle clashëd,
And her dreaming spirit flashëd
Through her body's fair white screen,
And the light thereof might guide him up the cedar alleys green:
But for me I saw no splendour-
Safe as Edipus's grave-place 'mid Colone's olives swart.
As Aladdin sought the basements
And the four-and-twenty casements
Which gave answers to the sun;
So, in wilderment of gazing, I looked up and I looked
Years have vanished since, as wholly
As the little bower did then ;
And you call it tender folly
That such thoughts should come again?
Ah, I cannot change this sighing for your smiling, brother
For this loss it did prefigure
Other loss of better good,
When my soul, in spirit vigour
And in ripened womanhood,
Fell from visions of more beauty than an arbour in a wood.
I have lost-oh, many a pleasure,
The first dew on the first flower!
But the first of all my losses was the losing of the bower.
I have lost the dream of Doing,
And the other dream of Done,