Who first said "false as dreams?" Not one who saw
Into the wild and wondrous world they sway;
No thinker who hath read their mystic law;
No Poet who hath weaved them in his lay.
Else had he known that through the human breast
Cross and recross a thousand fleeting gleams,
That, passed unnoticed in the day's unrest,
Come out at night, like stars, in shining dreams;
That minds too busy or to dull to mark
The dim suggestions of the noisier hours,
By dreams in the deep silence of the dark,
Are roused at midnight with their folded powers.
Like that old fount beneath Dodona's oaks,
That, dry and voiceless in the garish noon,
When the calm night arose with modest looks,
Caught with full wave the sparkle of the moon.
If, now and then, a ghastly shape glide in,
And fright us with its horrid gloom or glee,
It is the ghost of some forgotten sin
We failed to exorcise on bended knee.
And that sweet face which only yesternight
Came to thy solace, dreamer (did'st thou read
The blessing in its eyes of tearful light?)
Was but the spirit of some gentle deed.
Each has its lesson; for our dreams in sooth,
Come they in shape of demons, gods, or elves,
Are allegories with deep hearts of truth
That tell us solemn secrets of ourselves.
I know not why, but all this weary day,
Suggested by no definite grief or pain,
Sad fancies have been flitting through my brain;
Now it has been a vessel losing way,
Rounding a stormy headland; now a gray
Dull waste of clouds above a wintry main;
And then, a banner, drooping in the rain,
And meadows beaten into bloody clay.
Strolling at random with this shadowy woe
At heart, I chanced to wander hither! Lo!
A league of desolate marsh-land, with its lush,
Hot grasses in a noisome, tide-left bed,
And faint, warm airs, that nestle in the hush,
Like whispers round the body of the dead!
Is it because your sable hair
Is folded over brows that wear
At times a too imperial air;
Or is it that the thoughts which rise
In those dark orbs do seek disguise
Beneath the lids of Eastern eyes;
That choose whatever pose or place
May chance to please, in you I trace
The noblest women of your race?
The crowd is sauntering at its ease,
And humming like a hive of bees-
You take your seat and touch the keys.
I do not hear the giddy throng;
The sea avenges Israel's wrong,
And on the wind floats Miriam's song!
You join me with a stately grace;
Music to Poesy gives place;
Some grand emotion lights your face.
At once I stand by Mizpeh's walls:
With smiles the martyred daughter falls,
And desolate are Mizpeh's halls!
Intrusive babblers come between;
With calm, pale brow and lofty mien,
You thread the circle like a queen!
Then sweeps the royal Esther by;
The deep devotion in her eye
Is looking "If I die, I die!"
You stroll the garden's flowery walks;
The plants to me are grainless stalks,
And Ruth to old Naomi talks.
Adopted child of Judah's creed,
Like Judah's daughters true at need,
I see you mid the alien seed.
I watch afar the gleaner sweet;
I wake like Boaz in the wheat,
And find you lying at my feet!
My feet! Oh! if the spell that lures
My heart through all these dreams endures,
How soon shall I be stretched at yours!