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ANATICS have their dreams, wherewith - they weave A paradise for a sect; the savage, too, From forth the loftiest fashion of his sleep Guesses at heaven ; pity these have not Traced upon vellum or wild Indian leaf The shadows of melodious utterance, But bare of laurel they live, dream, and die; For Poesy alone can tell her dreams,With the fine spell of words alone can save Imagination from the sable chain
IO And dumb enchantment. Who alive can say, “Thou art no Poet- mayst not tell thy dreams?” Since every man whose soul is not a clod Hath visions and would speak, if he had loved, And been well nurtured in his mother tongue. Whether the dream now purposed to rehearse Be poet's or fanatic's will be known When this warm scribe, my hand, is in the grave.
The passages within brackets are those which are to be found in the later poem.
I sawrellis vincensers, doorway: of
Methought I stood where trees of every clime, Palm, myrtle, oak, and sycamore, and beech, 20 With plantane and spice-blossoms, made a screen, In neighbourhood of fountains (by the noise Soft-showering in mine ears), and (by the touch Of scent) not far from roses. Twining round I saw an arbour with a drooping roof Of trellis vines, and bells, and larger blooms, Like floral censers, swinging light in air; Before its wreathed doorway, on a mound Of moss, was spread a feast of summer fruits, Which, nearer seen, seem'd refuse of a meal 30 By angel tasted or our Mother Eve; For empty shells were scatter'd on the grass, And grapestalks but half-bare, and remnants more Sweet-smelling, whose pure kinds I could not know. Still was more plenty than the fabled horn Thrice emptied could pour forth at banqueting, For Proserpine return'd to her own fields, Where the white heifers low. And appetite, More yearning than on earth I ever felt, Growing within, I ate deliciously, And, after not long, thirsted; for thereby Stood a cool vessel of transparent juice Sipp'd by the wander'd bee, the which I took, And pledging all the mortals of the world, And all the dead whose names are in our lips, Drank. That full draught is parent of my theme. No Asian poppy nor elixir fine Of the soon-fading, jealous Caliphat, .. No poison gender'd in close monkish cell, To thin the scarlet conclave of old men, Could so have rapt unwilling life away.
Among the fragrant husks and berries crush'd
Upon the grass, I struggled hard against
The domineering potion, but in vain.
The cloudy swoon came on, and down I sank,
Like a Silenus on an antique vase.
How long. I slumber'd 'tis a chance to guess.
When sense of life return'd, I started up
As if with wings, but the fair trees were gone,
The mossy mound and arbour were no more: 60
I look'd around upon the curved sides
Of an old sanctuary, with roof august,
Builded so high, it seem'd that filmed clouds
Might spread beneath as o'er the stars of heaven.
So old the place was, I remember'd none
The like upon the earth : what I had seen
Of grey cathedrals, buttress'd walls, rent towers,
The superannuations of sunk realms,
Or Nature's rocks toil'd hard in waves and winds,
Seem'd but the faulture of decrepit things 70
To that eternal domed monument.
Upon the marble at my feet there lay
Store of strange vessels and large draperies,
Which needs had been of dyed asbestos wove,
Or in that place the moth could not corrupt,
So white the linen, so, in some, distinct
Ran imageries from a sombre loom.
All in a mingled heap confused there lay
Robes, golden tongs, censer and chafing-dish,
Girdles, and chains, and holy jewelries. 80
Turning from these with awe, once more I raised
My eyes to fathom the space every way:
The embossed roof, the silent massy range
Of columns north and south, ending in mist
Of nothing; then to eastward, where black gates
Were shut against the sunrise evermore;
Then to the west I look'd, and saw far off
An image, huge of feature as a cloud,
At level of whose feet an altar slept,
To be approach'd on either side by steps 90
And marble balustrade, and patient travail
To count with toil the innumerable degrees.
Towards the altar sober-paced I went,
Repressing haste as too unholy there;
And, coming nearer, saw beside the shrine
One ministering; and there arose a flame.
When in midday the sickening east-wind
Shifts sudden to the south, the small warm rain
Melts out the frozen incense from all flowers,
And fills the air with so much pleasant health 100
That even the dying man forgets his shroud;
Even so that lofty sacrificial fire,
Sending forth Maian incense, spread around
Forgetfulness of everything but bliss,
And clouded all the altar with soft smoke;
From whose white fragrant curtains thus I heard
Language pronounced: “If thou canst not ascend
These steps, die on that marble where thou art.
Thy flesh, near cousin to the common dust,
Will parch for lack of nutriment; thy bones 110
Will wither in few years, and vanish so
That not the quickest eye could find a grain
Of what thou now art on that pavement cold.
The sands of thy short life are spent this hour,
And no hand in the universe can turn
Thy hourglass, if these gummed leaves be burnt
Ere thou canst mount up these immortal steps."
I heard, I look'd: two senses both at once,
So fine, so subtle, felt the tyranny
Of that fierce threat and the hard task proposed.
Prodigious seem'd the toil; the leaves were yet
Burning, when suddenly a palsied chill
Struck from the paved level up my limbs,
And was ascending quick to put cold grasp
Upon those streams that pulse beside the throat.
I shriek'd, and the sharp anguish of my shriek
Stung my own ears; I strove hard to escape
The numbness, strove to gain the lowest step.
Slow, heavy, deadly was my pace: the cold
Grew stifling, suffocating at the heart; 130
And when I clasp'd my hands I felt them not.
One minute before death my iced foot touch'd
The lowest stair; and, as it touch'd, life seem'd
To pour in at the toes; I mounted up
As once fair angels on a ladder flew
From the green turf to heaven. “Holy Power,"
Cried I, approaching near the horned shrine,
“ What am I that should so be saved from death?
What am I that another death come not
To choke my utterance, sacrilegious, here?” 140
Then said the veiled shadow : “ Thou hast felt
What 'tis to die and live again before
Thy fated hour; that thou hadst power to do so
Is thine own safety; thou hast dated on
Thy doom.” “High Prophetess," said I, “purge off,
Benign, if so it please thee, my mind's film.”
“None can usurp this height,” returned that shade,
“But those to whom the miseries of the world
Are misery, and will not let them rest.
All else who find a haven in the world, 150