The Brightness

A poem by John Frederick Freeman

Away, away--
Through that strange void and vast
Brimmed with dying day;
Away,
So that I feel
Only the wind
Of the world's swift-rolling wheel.

See what a maze
Of whirling rays!
The sharp wind
Weakens; the air
Is but thin air,
Not fume and flying fire....
O, heart's desire,
Now thou art still
And the air chill.

And but a stem
Of clear cold light
Shines in this stony dark.
Farewell, world of sense,
Too fair, too fair
To be so false!
Hence, hence
Rosy memories,
Delight of ears, hands, eyes.
Rise
When I bid, O thou
Tide of the dark,
Whelming the pale last,
Reflection of that vast
Too-fair deceit.

Ah, sweet
To miss the vexing heat
Of the heart's desire:
Only to know
All's lost, lost....
Sweet
To know the lack of sweet.

--Thou fool!
See how the steady dark
Is filled with eyes--
Eyes that smile,
Hot, then how cool!
Eyes that were stars till thou
Mad'st them eyes.
O, the tormenting
Look, the unrelenting
Passionate kiss
Of their wild light on thine--
Light of thine eyes!

As if one could
Loathe the world for too much sweetness!
All the air's a flame,
Wonderful--yet the same
Thou'st hated,
Being briefly sated
With sweet of sweetness.

Forgive a heart whose madness
Was not of madness born,
But of mere wild
Waste of desire....
Who does not know
One speaks so, or so,
Out of mere passion
That sees not love
From hate, nor life from death,
Nor hell from heaven?

In the East--oh, that flashed
Brightness, past
The loveliness even
Of sunset's flush!

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