Time From His Grave

A poem by John Frederick Freeman

When the south-west wind came
The air grew bright and sweet, as though a flame
Had cleansed the world of winter. The low sky
As the wind lifted it rose trembling vast and high,
And white clouds sallied by
As children in their pleasure go
Chasing the sun beneath the orchard's shadow and snow.
Nothing, nothing was the same!
Not the dull brick, not the stained London stone,
Not the delighted trees that lost their moan--
Their moan that daily vexed me with such pain
Until I hated to see trees again;
Nor man nor woman was the same
Nor could be stones again,
Such light and colour with the south-west came.
As I drank all that brightness up I saw
A dark globe lapt in fold on fold of gloom,
With all her hosts asleep in that cold tomb,
Sealed by an iron law.
And there amid the hills,
Locked in an icy hollow lay the bones
Of one that ghostly and enormous slept
Obscure 'neath wrinkled ice and bedded stones.
But as spring water the old dry channel fills,
Came the south-west wind filling all the air.
Then Time rose up, ghostly, enormous, stark,
With cold gray light in cold gray eyes, and dark
Dark clouds caught round him, feet to rigid chin.
The wind ran flushed and glorious in,
Godlike from hill to frozen hill-top stepp'd,
And swiftly upon that bony stature swept.
Then a long breath and then quick breaths I heard,
In those black caves of stillness music stirred,
Those icy heights were riven:
From crown to clearing hollow grass was green;
And godlike from flushed hill to hill-top leapt
Time, youthful, quick, serene,
Dew flashing from his limbs, light from his eyes
To the sheeny skies.
A lark's song climbed from earth and dropped from heaven,
Far off the tide clung to the shore
Now silent nevermore.
... Into what vision'd wonder was I swept,
Upon what unimaginable joyance had I leapt!

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