The Vision - Poem by Theodore Watts-Dunton
With Barton elms behind--in front the sea,
Sitting in rosy light in that alcove,
They hear the first lark rise o'er Raxton Grove:
'What should I do with fame, dear heart?' says he,
'You talk of fame, poetic fame, to me
Whose crown is not of laurel but of love--
To me who would not give this little glove
On this dear hand for Shakespeare's dower in fee.
While, rising red and kindling every billow,
The sun's shield shines 'neath many a golden spear,
To lean with you, against this leafy pillow,
To murmur words of love in this loved ear--
To feel you bending like a bending willow,
This is to be a poet--this, my dear!'
O God, to die and leave her--die and leave
The heaven so lately won!--And then, to know
What misery will be hers--what lonely woe!--
To see the bright eyes weep, to see her grieve
Will make me a coward as I sink, and cleave
To life though Destiny has bid me go.
How shall I bear the pictures that will glow
Above the glowing billows as they heave?
One picture fades, and now above the spray
Another shines: ah, do I know the bowers
Where yon sweet woman stands--the woodland flowers,
In that bright wreath of grass and new-mown hay--
That birthday wreath I wove when earthly hours
Wore angel-wings,--till portents brought dismay?
Shall I turn coward here who sailed with Death
Through many a tempest on mine own North Sea,
And quail like him of old who bowed the knee--
Faithless--to billows of Genesereth?
Did I turn coward when my very breath
Froze on my lips that Alpine night when He
Stood glimmering there, the Skeleton, with me,
While avalanches rolled from peaks beneath?
Each billow bears me nearer to the verge
Of realms where she is not--where love must wait.
If Gelert, there, could hear, no need to urge
That friend, so faithful, true, affectionate,
To come and help me, or to share my fate.
Ah! surely I see him springing through the surge.
[The dog, plunging into the tide and striking
towards his master with immense strength,
reaches him and swims round him.]
Oh, Gelert, strong of wind and strong of paw,
Here gazing like your namesake, 'Snowdon's Hound,'
When great Llewelyn's child could not be found,
And all the warriors stood in speechless awe--
Mute as your namesake when his master saw
The cradle tossed--the rushes red around--
With never a word, but only a whimpering sound
To tell what meant the blood on lip and jaw!
In such a strait, to aid this gaze so fond,
Should I, brave friend, have needed other speech
Than this dear whimper? Is there not a bond
Stronger than words that binds us each to each?--
But Death has caught us both. 'Tis far beyond
The strength of man or dog to win the beach.
Through tangle-weed--through coils of slippery kelp
Decking your shaggy forehead, those brave eyes
Shine true--shine deep of love's divine surmise
As hers who gave you--then a Titan whelp!--
I think you know my danger and would help!--
See how I point to yonder smack that lies
At anchor--Go! His countenance replies.
Hope's music rings in Gelert's eager yelp!
[The dog swims swiftly away down the tide.]
Now, life and love and death swim out with him!
If he should reach the smack, the men will guess
The dog has left his master in distress.
She taught him in these very waves to swim--
'The prince of pups,' she said, 'for wind and limb'--
And now those lessons come to save--to bless.
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