Like a bold, adventurous swain,
Just a year ago to-day,
I launched my bark on a radiant main,
And Hymen led the way:
"Breakers ahead!" he cried,
As he sought to overwhelm
My daring craft in the shrieking tide,
But Love, like a pilot bold and tried,
Sat, watchful, at the helm.
And we passed the treacherous shoals,
Where many a hope lay dead,
And splendid wrecks were piled, like the ghouls
Of joys forever fled.
Once safely over these,
We sped by a fairy realm,
Across the bluest and calmest seas
That were ever kissed by a truant breeze,
With Love still at the helm.
We sailed by sweet, odorous isles,
Where the flowers and trees were one;
Through lakes that vied with the golden smiles
Of heaven's unclouded sun:
Still speeds our merry bark,
Threading life's peaceful realm,
And 'tis ever morn with our marriage-lark,
For the Pilot-Love of our safety-ark
Stands, watchful, at the helm.
A beautiful land is the Land of Dreams,
Green hills and valleys, and deep lagoons,
Swift-rushing torrents and gentle streams,
Glassing a myriad silver moons;
Mirror-like lakelets with lovely isles,
And verdurous headlands looking down
On the Neread shapes, whose smiles
Were worth the price of a peaceful crown.
We clutch at the silvery bars
Flung from the motionless stars,
And climb far into space,
Defying the race
Who ride in aërial cars.
We take up the harp of the mind,
And finger its delicate strings;
The notes, soft and light
As a moonbeam's flight,
Departing on viewless wings.
Afar in some fanciful bower,
Some region of exquisite calm,
Where the starlight falls in a gleaming shower,
We sink to repose
On our couch of rose,
Inhaling no mortal balm.
The worlds are no longer unknown,
We pass through the uttermost sky,
Our eyelids are kissed
By a gentle mist,
And we feel the tone
Of a calmer zone,
As if heaven were wondrous nigh.
A fanciful land is the Land of Dreams,
Where earth and heaven are clasping hands;
No heaven - no earth,
But one wide, new birth,
Where Beauty and Goodness, and human worth,
Make earth of heaven and heaven of earth;
And angels are walking on golden strands.
And the pearly gates of the universe
Of mind and fancy, opening
To the touch of the dainty finger-tips
Of elegant Peris with rose-bud lips,
Delicate, weird-like sounds are born
From the amber depths of odorous morn,
And spirits of beauty and light rehearse
Such strains as the young immortals sing,
When the souls of the blest
Are borne to their rest,
On luminous pinions of light serene
To the fragrant bowers of evergreen;
O'er the rosy plains, where the dying hours
Are changed by a spell to celestial flowers,
Where the skies have a hue no name can express,
For the tone of their passionate loveliness
Surpasseth all human imagining.
Such was their beautiful Dream of Life;
Each stern reality softened down;
Earth seemed to have ended her age of Strife,
And Harmony reigned, her olive crown
Besting on the Parian brow
Of the fair victor, like the gleam
Of the silvery moon on waves that flow
Thoughtfully down the summer stream.
Such was their earnest Dream of Life!
Was it some angel, with jealous eye,
Seeing such love beneath the sky
As never yet in world or star,
Or spheral height, that reached so far
'Twas never beheld by mortal sight,
Or elsewhere, save in highest heaven,
Was duly earned, or truly given,
That leagued with the usurper, Death,
To quench the light that shone so bright
That in all the earth there was not a breath
So foul as to change their day to night?
Alone! alone! Oh, word of fearful tone!
Well might the moon withhold her light,
The stars withdraw from human sight,
When Love was overthrown.
The Minstrel's heart how changed!
O'er which he reigned supreme,
Usurped by earth's realities;
The realm through which he ranged
Become a vanished dream!
And yet he sung, as sings
The dying swan that droops its wings
And drifts along the stream: