When in the bosom of the eldest night
This body lies, cold as a sculptured rest;
When through its shaded windows comes no light,
And its pale hands are folded on its breast--
How shall I fare, who had to wander out,
And of the unknown land the frontier cross,
Peering vague-eyed, uncertain, all about,
Unclothed, mayhap unwelcomed, bathed in loss?
Shall I depart slow-floating like a mist,
Over the city murmuring beneath;
Over the trees and fields, where'er I list,
Seeking the mountain and the lonely heath?
Or will a darkness, o'er material shows
Descending, hide them from the spirit's sight;
As from the sun a blotting radiance flows
Athwart the stars all glorious through the night;
And the still spirit hang entranced, alone,
Like one in an exalted opium-dream--
Soft-flowing time, insisting space, o'erblown,
With form and colour, tone and touch and gleam,
Thought only waking--thought that may not own
The lapse of ages, or the change of spot;
Its doubt all cast on what it counted known,
Its faith all fixed on what appeareth not?
Or, worn with weariness, shall we sleep until,
Our life restored by long and dreamless rest,
Of God's oblivion we have drunk our fill,
And wake his little ones, peaceful and blest?
I nothing know, and nothing need to know.
God is; I shall be ever in his sight!
Give thou me strength to labour well, and so
Do my day's work ere fall my coming night.