The Isle Of Sleep.

A poem by Kate Seymour Maclean

In those dark mornings, deep in June,
When brooding birds stir in the nest,
And heavy dews slip down the leaves,
And drop into the rose's breast,
I woke and looked into the east,
And saw no sign of coming day,
The pale cold morning rolled in mist,
Slept on the hill-tops far away.

My window looked into the dawn,
The slumbering dawn that was so nigh,
The shadow of the hills was drawn
In waving lines against the sky.
But warmer hues began to tip
The edges of the mountain cloud
And morning's rosy cheek and lip
Glowed softly through her snow-pale shroud.

I turned and gazed into the west,
The river murmured in my ear
'Gone night, and silence, dreams and rest,
Another day of toil is here.'

I would I had a fairy boat,
With every swift bright sail unfurled,
To fly beyond the west, and float
With night into the under world.

My head sank lower on my arm,
My eyes re-closed in sleepy bliss,
While fancy wove her subtle charm,
My dream did shape itself to this:--
Upon a shore whose sands of gold
Sloped down into a silver sea,
Her radiant pinions all unrolled,
A fairy boat did wait for me.

And Night with all her splendours pale
Did walk before me on the deep,
The stars looked through her azure veil,
And hand in hand with her went Sleep.
Beyond the hills, into the night
My boat went drifting like the wind,
The stars paled round us, and the light
Died on our pathway far behind.

And cloudy shapes with rippling hair
That shaded eyes of dreamy calm,
Formed and dissolved into the air
Which laved my brow with waves of balm.

Dusk arms upreaching from the sea,
And shadow-faces, seen and gone,
Toward an isle did beckon me,
Beyond the farthest gates of dawn.

We drew towards that lonely shore,
With still and measured motion slow,
I saw the hills lift evermore
Their massive foreheads crowned with snow,
And underneath, like moonlight fair,
I saw a hundred fathoms deep,
The crystal columns light as air
That undergird the Isle of Sleep.

And spire and dome and architrave,
And pictured window's rainbow gleams
Upshone from out the charmed wave,
Afloat upon a sea of dreams.
The sea-moss wove her braided locks
Along the beach in chains afar,
And lilies smiled among the rocks,
Peerless and perfect as a star.

A wood of asphodel below
Uprose as still and sweet as death,
And gliding shapes moved to and fro,--
I watched them with suspended breath.

Lost loved ones met and clasped me here;
I looked into their eyes serene,
They spake to me, and I did hear
As I were walking in a dream.

But even then a wind arose
That swept the morning mists away,
And showed, unfolding like a rose,
The bright flower of the perfect day:
And fading--faded like a cloud,
The hands I clasped, like wreaths of smoke,
While chanticleer crowed shrill and loud,
And wan and 'wildered I awoke.

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