O strange, dim other-world revealed to us,
Beginning there where ends reality,
Lying 'twixt life and death, and populous
With souls from either sphere! now enter we
Thy twisted paths. Barred is the silver gate,
But the wild-carven doors of ivory
Spring noiselessly apart: between them straight
Flies forth a cloud of nameless shadowy things,
With harpies, imps, and monsters, small and great,
Blurring the thick air with darkening wings.
All humors of the blood and brain take shape,
And fright us with our own imaginings.
A trouble weighs upon us: no escape
From this unnatural region can there be.
Fixed eyes stare on us, wide mouths grin and gape,
Familiar faces out of reach we see.
Fain would we scream, to shatter with a cry
The tangled woof of hideous fantasy,
When, lo! the air grows clear, a soft fair sky
Shines over head: sharp pain dissolves in peace;
Beneath the silver archway quietly
We float away: all troublous visions cease.
By a strange sense of joy we are possessed,
Body and spirit soothed in perfect rest.