Sleep is a spirit, who beside us sits,
Or through our frames like some dim glamour flits;
From out her form a pearly light is shed,
As from a lily, in a lily-bed,
A firefly's gleam. Her face is pale as stone,
And languid as a cloud that drifts alone
In starry heav'n. And her diaphanous feet
Are easy as the dew or opaline heat
Lo! with ears aurora pink
As Dawn's she leans and listens on the brink
Of being, dark with dreadfulness and doubt,
Wherein vague lights and shadows move about,
And palpitations beat like some huge heart
Of Earth the surging pulse of which we're part.
One hand, that hollows her divining eyes,
Glows like the curved moon over twilight skies;
And with her gaze she fathoms life and death
Gulfs, where man's conscience, like a restless breath
Of wind, goes wand'ring; whispering low of things,
The irremediable, where sorrow clings.
Around her limbs a veil of woven mist
Wavers, and turns from fibered amethyst
To textured crystal; through which symboled bars
Of silver burn, and cabalistic stars
Of nebulous gold.
Shrouding her feet and hair,
Within this woof, fantastic, everywhere,
Dreams come and go; the instant images
Of things she sees and thinks; realities,
Shadows, with which her heart and fancy swarm.
That in the veil take momentary form:
Now picturing heaven in celestial fire,
And now the hell of every soul's desire;
Hinting at worlds, God wraps in mystery,
Beyond the world we know and touch and see.