Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

Beyond


COLOSSAL orb of space,
Sparkling with diamond
Of countless star on star,
All whirling with wild grace
In their enwoven dance
Illimitably far,
What lies beyond
Your vasty hollow girdled by that bright
River of stellar spray
We call the Milky Way?
Immeasurable ball,
Cornpassed and clasped in light,
Can you be all,
A flock of fireflies circling in the night,
A maze of jewels that the toss of Chance
Let fall,
Sun, planet, asteroid,
One globe of glories in the utter void?
What lies beyond?
Does the sheer Dark immerse
Infinity, drowning the last faint gold
Of fleeting comets, lost and vagabond?
Or is this astral universe,
All that our utmost vision may behold,
But one amidst a host of star-strewn spheres,
Each zoned with its own stream
Of softer gleam,
Perchance each dowered with wonder, love and tears?
What lies beyond?
The puny human heart still stirs
Against those flaming barriers,
That proud, impenetrable dome
Of fire and ether, seeking for a home,
A Soul that shall respond
To all its questions, longings and despairs.
Is space but raiment that the Spirit wears,
A gem-embroidered mantle to conceal
And yet reveal
In splendors of surprise
Beauty ineffable,
Immanuel?
Or shall we rise,
Higher than dream of Dante ever trod,
From star to star, from empyrean on
To empyrean, till the sun that shone
Over our vexed mortality be wan,
Through life on life, eternal range
From form to form, from change to change,
To find the Unknown God?

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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