Into the darkness and the deeps
My thoughts have strayed, where silence dwells,
Where the old world encrypted sleeps,--
Myriads of forms, in myriad cells,
Of dead and inorganic things,
That neither live, nor move, nor grow,
Nor any change of atoms know;
That have neither legs, nor arms, nor wings,
That have neither heads, nor mouths, nor stings,
That have neither roots, nor leaves, nor stems,
To hold up flowers like diadems,
Growing out of the ground below:
But which hold instead
The cycles dead,
And out of their stony and gloomy folds
Shape out new moulds
For a new race begun;
Shutting within dark pages, furled
As in a vast herbarium,
The flowers and balms,
The pines and palms,
The ferns and cones,
All turned to stones
Of all the unknown elder world,
As in a wonderful museum,
Ranged in its myriad mummy shelves.
Insects and worms,--
All lower forms
Of fin and scale,
Of gnat and whale,
Fish, bird, and the monstrous mastodon,
The fabulous megatherium,
And men themselves.
Ah, what life is here compressed,
Frozen into endless rest!
Down through springing blades and spires,
Down through mines, and crypts, and caves,
Still graves on graves, and graves on graves,
Down to earth's most central fires.
The morning stars sang at their birth,
In the first beginnings of time.
What voice of dolour or of mirth
At their last funeral made moan,--
Ashes to ashes--earth to earth,
And stone to stone,--
Chanting the liturgy sublime.
What matter,--in that doom's-day book
Their place is fixed--their names are writ,
Each in its individual nook,--
God's eye beholds--remembers it.
When the slow-moving centuries
Have lapsed in the former eternities,--
When the day is come which we see not yet,--
When the sea gives up its dead--
And the thrones are set,
These books shall be opened and read!