The Voice of the Wise

A poem by George William Russell

They sat with hearts untroubled,
The clear sky sparkled above,
And an ancient wisdom bubbled
From the lips of a youthful love.

They read in a coloured history
Of Egypt and of the Nile,
And half it seemed a mystery,
Familiar, half, the while.

Till living out of the story
Grew old Egyptian men,
And a shadow looked forth Rory
And said, "We meet again!"

And over Aileen a maiden
Looked back through the ages dim:
She laughed, and her eyes were laden
With an old-time love for him.

In a mist came temples thronging
With sphinxes seen in a row,
And the rest of the day was a longing
For their homes of long ago.

"We'd go there if they'd let us,"
They said with wounded pride:
"They never think when they pet us
We are old like that inside."

There was some one round them straying
The whole of the long day through,
Who seemed to say, "I am playing
At hide-and-seek with you."

And one thing after another
Was whispered out of the air,
How God was a big kind brother
Whose home was in everywhere.

His light like a smile come glancing
From the cool, cool winds as they pass;
From the flowers in heaven dancing
And the stars that shine in the grass,

And the clouds in deep blue wreathing,
And most from the mountains tall,
But God like a wind goes breathing
A heart-light of gold in all.

It grows like a tree and pushes
Its way through the inner gloom,
And flowers in quick little rushes
Of love to a magic bloom.

And no one need sigh now or sorrow
Whenever the heart-light flies,
For it comes again on some morrow
And nobody ever dies.

The heart of the Wise was beating
In the children's heart that day,
And many a thought came fleeting,
And fancies solemn and gay.

They were grave in a way divining
How childhood was taking wings,
And the wonder world was shining
With vast eternal things.

The solemn twilight fluttered
Like the plumes of seraphim,
And they felt what things were uttered
In the sunset voice of Him.

They lingered long, for dearer
Than home were the mountain places
Where God from the stars dropt nearer
Their pale, dreamy faces.

Their very hearts from beating
They stilled in awed delight.
For Spirit and children were meeting
In the purple, ample night.

Dusk its ash-grey blossoms sheds on violet skies
Over twilight mountains where the heart-songs rise,
Rise and fall and fade again from earth to air:
Earth renews the music sweeter. Oh, come there.
Come, ma cushla, come, as in ancient times
Rings aloud and the underland with faery chimes.
Down the unseen ways as strays each tinkling fleece
Winding ever onward to a fold of peace,
So my dreams go straying in a land more fair;
Half I tread the dew-wet grasses, half wander there.
Fade your glimmering eyes in a world grown cold:
Come, ma cushla, with me to the mountain's fold,
Where the bright ones call us waving to and fro:
Come, my children, with me to the Ancient go.

--October 15, 1896

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