Treasure Island

George Meredith

(12 February 1828 – 18 May 1909 / Portsmouth, England)

The South-Wester


Day of the cloud in fleets! O day
Of wedded white and blue, that sail
Immingled, with a footing ray
In shadow-sandals down our vale! -
And swift to ravish golden meads,
Swift up the run of turf it speeds,
Thy bright of head and dark of heel,
To where the hilltop flings on sky,
As hawk from wrist or dust from wheel,
The tiptoe sealers tossed to fly:-
Thee the last thunder's caverned peal
Delivered from a wailful night:
All dusky round thy cradled light,
Those brine-born issues, now in bloom
Transfigured, wreathed as raven's plume
And briony-leaf to watch thee lie:
Dark eyebrows o'er a dreamful eye
Nigh opening: till in the braid
Of purpled vapours thou wert rosed:
Till that new babe a Goddess maid
Appeared and vividly disclosed
Her beat of life: then crimson played
On edges of the plume and leaf:
Shape had they and fair feature brief,
The wings, the smiles: they flew the breast,
Earth's milk. But what imperial march
Their standards led for earth, none guessed
Ere upward of a coloured arch,
An arrow straining eager head
Lightened, and high for zenith sped.
Fierier followed; followed Fire.
Name the young lord of Earth's desire,
Whose look her wine is, and whose mouth
Her music! Beauteous was she seen
Beneath her midway West of South;
And sister was her quivered green
To sapphire of the Nereid eyes
On sea when sun is breeze; she winked
As they, and waved, heaved waterwise
Her flood of leaves and grasses linked:
A myriad lustrous butterflies
A moment in the fluttering sheen;
Becapped with the slate air that throws
The reindeer's antlers black between
Low-frowning and wide-fallen snows,
A minute after; hooded, stoled
To suit a graveside Season's dirge.
Lo, but the breaking of a surge,
And she is in her lover's fold,
Illumined o'er a boundless range
Anew: and through quick morning hours
The Tropic-Arctic countercharge
Did seem to pant in beams and showers.

But noon beheld a larger heaven;
Beheld on our reflecting field
The Sower to the Bearer given,
And both their inner sweetest yield,
Fresh as when dews were grey or first
Received the flush of hues athirst.
Heard we the woodland, eyeing sun,
As harp and harper were they one.
A murky cloud a fair pursued,
Assailed, and felt the limbs elude:
He sat him down to pipe his woe,
And some strange beast of sky became:
A giant's club withheld the blow;
A milky cloud went all to flame.
And there were groups where silvery springs
The ethereal forest showed begirt
By companies in choric rings,
Whom but to see made ear alert.
For music did each movement rouse,
And motion was a minstrel's rage
To have our spirits out of house,
And bathe them on the open page.
This was a day that knew not age.
Since flew the vapoury twos and threes
From western pile to eastern rack;
As on from peaks of Pyrenees
To Graians; youngness ruled the track.
When songful beams were shut in caves,
And rainy drapery swept across;
When the ranked clouds were downy waves,
Breast of swan, eagle, albatross,
In ordered lines to screen the blue,
Youngest of light was nigh, we knew.
The silver finger of it laughed
Along the narrow rift: it shot,
Slew the huge gloom with golden shaft,
Then haled on high the volumed blot,
To build the hurling palace, cleave
The dazzling chasm; the flying nests,
The many glory-garlands weave,
Whose presence not our sight attests
Till wonder with the splendour blent,
And passion for the beauty flown,
Make evanescence permanent,
The thing at heart our endless own.

Only at gathered eve knew we
The marvels of the day: for then
Mount upon mountain out of sea
Arose, and to our spacious ken
Trebled sublime Olympus round
In towering amphitheatre.
Colossal on enormous mound,
Majestic gods we saw confer.
They wafted the Dream-messenger
From off the loftiest, the crowned:
That Lady of the hues of foam
In sun-rays: who, close under dome,
A figure on the foot's descent,
Irradiate to vapour went,
As one whose mission was resigned,
Dispieced, undraped, dissolved to threads;
Melting she passed into the mind,
Where immortal with mortal weds.

Whereby was known that we had viewed
The union of our earth and skies
Renewed: nor less alive renewed
Than when old bards, in nature wise,
Conceived pure beauty given to eyes,
And with undyingness imbued.
Pageant of man's poetic brain,
His grand procession of the song,
It was; the Muses and their train;
Their God to lead the glittering throng:
At whiles a beat of forest gong;
At whiles a glimpse of Python slain.
Mostly divinest harmony,
The lyre, the dance. We could believe
A life in orb and brook and tree,
And cloud; and still holds Memory
A morning in the eyes of eve.

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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