A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


Upon the Siren-haunted seas, between Fate's mythic shores,
Within a world of moon and mist, where dusk and daylight wed,
I see a phantom galley and its hull is banked with oars,
With ghostly oars that move to song, a song of dreams long dead:

"Oh, we are sick of rowing here!
With toil our arms are numb;
With smiting year on weary year
Salt-furrows of the foam:
Our journey's end is never near,
And will no nearer come
Beyond our reach the shores appear
Of far Elysium."


Within a land of cataracts and mountains old and sand,
Beneath whose heavens ruins rise, o'er which the stars burn red,
I see a spectral cavalcade with crucifix in hand
And shadowy armor march and sing, a song of dreams long dead:

"Oh, we are weary marching on!
Our limbs are travel-worn;
With cross and sword from dawn to dawn
We wend with raiment torn:
The leagues to go, the leagues we've gone
Are sand and rock and thorn
The way is long to Avalon
Beyond the deeps of morn."


They are the curs'd! the souls who yearn and evermore pursue
The vision of a vain desire, a splendor far ahead;
To whom God gives the poet's dream without the grasp to do,
The artist's hope without the scope between the quick and dead:

I, too, am weary toiling where
The winds and waters beat;
When shall I ease the oar I bear
And rest my tired feet?
When will the white moons cease to glare,
The red suns veil their heat?
And from the heights blow sweet the air
Of Love's divine retreat?

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