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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882 / London / England)

The Cloud Confines


The day is dark and the night
To him that would search their heart;
No lips of cloud that will part
Nor morning song in the light:
Only, gazing alone,
To him wild shadows are shown,
Deep under deep unknown
And height above unknown height.
Still we say as we go,--
"Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day."

The Past is over and fled;
Nam'd new, we name it the old;
Thereof some tale hath been told,
But no word comes from the dead;
Whether at all they be,
Or whether as bond or free,
Or whether they too were we,
Or by what spell they have sped.
Still we say as we go,--
"Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day."

What of the heart of hate
That beats in thy breast, O Time?--
Red strife from the furthest prime,
And anguish of fierce debate;
War that shatters her slain,
And peace that grinds them as grain,
And eyes fix'd ever in vain
On the pitiless eyes of Fate.
Still we say as we go,--
"Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day."

What of the heart of love
That bleeds in thy breast, O Man?--
Thy kisses snatch'd 'neath the ban
Of fangs that mock them above;
Thy bells prolong'd unto knells,
Thy hope that a breath dispels,
Thy bitter forlorn farewells
And the empty echoes thereof?
Still we say as we go,--
"Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day."

The sky leans dumb on the sea,
Aweary with all its wings;
And oh! the song the sea sings
Is dark everlastingly.
Our past is clean forgot,
Our present is and is not,
Our future's a seal'd seedplot,
And what betwixt them are we?--
We who say as we go,--
"Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day."

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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