Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
A Rhapsody - Poem by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
There is a God most surely in the heavens,
Who smileth always, though His face be hid.
And young Joy cometh as His messenger
Upon the Earth, like to a rushing wind,
Scattering the dead leaves of our discontent
Ere yet we see him. Then he setteth us
Upon his back and flieth to God's presence,
Till on our faces there is seen the light
Which streameth from His brows for evermore.
There is a God. Ay, by this breath of dawn,
I swear there is a God, even here on Earth.
And see, a blush upon the edge of heaven,
Bearing me witness! There is something changed
About these woods since yesterday; a look
Of shame on Nature's face; a consciousness
In the bent flowers; a troubled tell--tale gleam
On the lake's brim. This morning, as I passed
Over the lawn, there was an instant's hush
Among the trees, and then a whispering
Which woke the birds; and of a sudden, lo!
A thousand voices breathed conspiracy;
And now a silence. There are listening ears
In all these bushes waiting till I speak.
There is a God. I swear it on the truth
Of my new joy, which is not of the Earth,
But grows within my hand, a thing of strength,
A wonder to the Earth, whose old worn heart
Has long been joyless. Listen, while I speak,
Ye autumn woods. Ye ancient forest trees,
Lend me your ears. Thou little brook, be still
Till I have spoken, for I have a tale
For the morning's ear; and O! thou Nature's voice,
Be silent this one day and hear of joy
Newer than thine. You friends whom I have loved,
Listen, and stop me not with word or sign
Till I have poured my heart into your ears,
For if you spoke to me I should not hear,
And if you wept with me I should not see,
And if you mocked me I should not suspect,
Being this day the fool of happiness.
And all my blood is full of dancing motes;
And in my brain are chords of silver tone
Divinely struck to statelier harmonies
Than Heaven's own harping; and my eyes have tears
Which brim and quiver, but they will not fall,
For they are far too happy in my eyes.
Tears,--what of tears? which are but new delights,
New visions of new joys which none have seen,
And which are mine. Such only Solomon
Saw when he sat upon his ivory throne,
And lo! the pageantry of Sheba came,
Bearing its queen upon a sandal bed,
And laid her at his feet. These even I,
Who live and speak with you, have seen to--night.
And mark, how simply wonders come about
And take our hearts by storm, as in the night
Fate creeps upon a city. I had fled
Four months ago, when July nights were young,
Out to the wilderness to be alone.
Four months, four summer months among the hills,
So far from my old life I had forgot
All to my name. None knew me but my dog,
And he was secret. Thus, in pedlar's guise,
With pack and staff, and bartering such small wares
Of pills and ointments as the vulgar love,
And gathering simples, I had worked my way
Through every valley of the Candriote hills.
Four summer months of silence, and the balm
Of the green pastures where the cattle go
In the long droughts; among the giant rocks
Which are the walls of heaven, the ibex' home;
Among the dells where the green lizards lurk,
Waiting for sunrise. Oh, I knew them all,
The speckled birds which live among the stones.
I made new friendship with each grass and weed,
Each moss and lichen. Every flower became
Like a familiar face, and as I passed
The harebell nodded to me from her stem,
The gentian opened wide her sapphire eyes,
And the Alp--roses blushed. But, most of all,
The butterflies were mine. I marked each one,
As he came sailing down upon the wind,
A furlong off. The Argus looked at me
Out of his hundred eyes and did not move.
I could have counted you the purple spots
On great Apollo's wings. The shepherds came,
And brought their sick, that I might heal their woes
With my poor knowledge, and I learned in turn
Much weather--wisdom, and some wisdom too
Fresh from their human hearts 'twas wealth to know.
And thus I lived and dreamed and drank the wind
Which snows had cooled; and often I have stood
On some tall pinnacle above the plain,
And watched the clouds come flying on the breeze
To tear their fleeces on the jagged rocks,
Until they caught and folded me about
In their damp garments; and, when these were gone,
And the sun broke through the rain, my very soul
Laughed with the sun, washed white as a christened child,
And all was clean forgotten but its joy.
Such life was mine the short sweet summer through;
But when the August days were fled away
And nights grew chill, I came to Bannastal
On the Uranian sea, and there my fate
Was waiting for me, though I knew it not.
My fate, and what a fate! Oh, Lytton, now
I see my life transfigured like a seer's.
My eyes are open. I read plain the meaning
Of all that I beheld and heard and knew
Through the past summer, as in words of fire:
The sadness of my soul, my pilgrimage
Among the hills, each flower upon my way,
The sun, the stars, the passionate face of heaven,
The virtue of the earth, which expectation
Peopled for me with signs and prophecies,
All, all foretold the coming of a god.
Nay more, each hope, each fancy, each desire,
Each separate thought which I have thought, each sorrow
Laid on my heart, each unseen accident
Met in my road, each word, each look, each choice,
Each idle dream that I have dreamt in folly,
From my first hour till now, I do acknowledge
As the great forecast of a glorious fate,
Of hope made ecstasy and life made love.
And thus it is I learned the very truth
That God is on this earth. For twenty days
Are come and gone, and twenty nights have been
More sunny than those days, since these things were;
And I still ride upon the back of joy,
Which bears me bravely. Still the flowers blow.
St. Martin's summer has brought back the birds
To sing in these old gardens as in June.
--Listen. I hear one like the nightingale,
But sweeter and less sad, and thus she sings:
Oh fly not, Pleasure, pleasant--hearted Pleasure.
Fold me thy wings, I prithee, yet and stay.
For my heart no measure
Knows nor other treasure
To buy a garland for my love to--day.
And thou too, Sorrow, tender--hearted Sorrow.
Thou grey--eyed mourner, fly not yet away.
For I fain would borrow
Thy sad weeds to--morrow
To make a mourning for love's yesterday.
The voice of Pity, Time's divine dear Pity,
Moved me to tears. I dared not say them nay,
But went forth from the city
Making thus my ditty
Of fair love lost for ever and a day.
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