George MacDonald

(10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

The Journey - Poem by George MacDonald

I.

Hark, the rain is on my roof!
Every murmur, through the dark,
Stings me with a dull reproof
Like a half-extinguished spark.
Me! ah me! how came I here,
Wide awake and wide alone!
Caught within a net of fear,
All my dreams undreamed and gone!

I will rise; I will go forth.
Better dare the hideous night,
Better face the freezing north
Than be still, where is no light!
Black wind rushing round me now,
Sown with arrowy points of rain!
Gone are there and then and now-
I am here, and so is pain!

Dead in dreams the gloomy street!
I will out on open roads.
Eager grow my aimless feet-
Onward, onward something goads!
I will take the mountain path,
Beard the storm within its den;
Know the worst of this dim wrath
Harassing the souls of men.

Chasm 'neath chasm! rock piled on rock!
Roots, and crumbling earth, and stones!
Hark, the torrent's thundering shock!
Hark, the swaying pine tree's groans!
Ah! I faint, I fall, I die,
Sink to nothingness away!-
Lo, a streak upon the sky!
Lo, the opening eye of day!

II.

Mountain summits lift their snows
O'er a valley green and low;
And a winding pathway goes
Guided by the river's flow;
And a music rises ever,
As of peace and low content,
From the pebble-paven river
Like an odour upward sent.

And the sound of ancient harms
Moans behind, the hills among,
Like the humming of the swarms
That unseen the forest throng.
Now I meet the shining rain
From a cloud with sunny weft;
Now against the wind I strain,
Sudden burst from mountain cleft.

Now a sky that hath a moon
Staining all the cloudy white
With a faded rainbow-soon
Lost in deeps of heavenly night!
Now a morning clear and soft,
Amber on the purple hills;
Warm blue day of summer, oft
Cooled by wandering windy rills!

Joy to travel thus along
With the universe around!
Every creature of the throng,
Every sight and scent and sound
Homeward speeding, beauty-laden,
Beelike, to its hive, my soul!
Mine the eye the stars are made in!
Mine the heart of Nature's whole!

III.

Hills retreating on each hand
Slowly sink into the plain;
Solemn through the outspread land
Rolls the river to the main.
In the glooming of the night
Something through the dusky air
Doubtful glimmers, faintly white,
But I know not what or where.

Is it but a chalky ridge
Bared of sod, like tree of bark?
Or a river-spanning bridge
Miles away into the dark?
Or the foremost leaping waves
Of the everlasting sea,
Where the Undivided laves
Time with its eternity?

Is it but an eye-made sight,
In my brain a fancied gleam?
Or a faint aurora-light
From the sun's tired smoking team?
In the darkness it is gone,
Yet with every step draws nigh;
Known shall be the thing unknown
When the morning climbs the sky!

Onward, onward through the night
Matters it I cannot see?
I am moving in a might
Dwelling in the dark and me!
End or way I cannot lose-
Grudge to rest, or fear to roam;
All is well with wanderer whose
Heart is travelling hourly home.

IV.

Joy! O joy! the dawning sea
Answers to the dawning sky,
Foretaste of the coming glee
When the sun will lord it high!
See the swelling radiance growing
To a dazzling glory-might!
See the shadows gently going
'Twixt the wave-tops wild with light!

Hear the smiting billows clang!
See the falling billows lean
Half a watery vault, and hang
Gleaming with translucent green,
Then in thousand fleeces fall,
Thundering light upon the strand!-
This the whiteness which did call
Through the dusk, across the land!

See, a boat! Out, out we dance!
Fierce blasts swoop upon my sail!
What a terrible expanse-
Tumbling hill and heaving dale!
Stayless, helpless, lost I float,
Captive to the lawless free!
But a prison is my boat!
Oh, for petrel-wings to flee!

Look below: each watery whirl
Cast in beauty's living mould!
Look above: each feathery curl
Dropping crimson, dropping gold!-
Oh, I tremble in the flush
Of the everlasting youth!
Love and awe together rush:
I am free in God, the Truth!


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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