Orion.

A poem by Walter R. Cassels

"A hunter of shadows, himself a shade."--HOMER.


Oh! weary sleeper by the lone sea-shore,
Where billows toil for ever 'mid the rocks,
Scourged on by winds in stormy equinox,
Rise! rise in haste, or slumber evermore!
The stern Earth calls thee, and the Ocean mocks;
Roll thy poor sightless orbs about the sky,
Through tears of blind and powerless agony;
Rise! rise in haste, or slumber evermore!

Ay! blind I stand beside the lone sea-shore;
Hearing the mighty murmur of the waves,
Shaking with giant arms earth's architraves,
Scaling the riven cloud-crags bald and boar,
Surging hoarse secrets through the central caves;
God! shall thine ocean undiscernèd roll,
Night on mine eyes, and darkness on my soul,
Groping for knowledge blindly evermore?

Wild laugh the winds, Ho! ho! about my face;
Heaven! mock me not!--with night-struck eyes upraised,
Still fronting full the dome where once I gazed,
Yearns my unsighted soul through dimmest space--
Before it let these earth-mists sink abased;
Let me behold the All before I die,
Passing, swift-wing'd, into Eternity;
Let me no more these shapeless shadows chase!

Is there not Phoebus in the golden East,
Pouring forth floods of brilliancy divine,
That fire the spirit more than Jove's own wine?
Arise! and drain the droppings of the feast!--
Heaven! there's no East for these blind eyes of mine,
Staring the sun down into black eclipse!
What hand will raise the chalice to my lips?
Give me a child to guide me--e'en the least.

Then on! thou giant, child-led, through the land,
Tottering feebly with uncertain stride,
With heavy moans along the mountain side,
Groping the darkness wildly, staff in hand,
Staying, deep-voiced, the quick steps of thy guide;
On! with wild sightless sockets to the sun,
Thirsting for the light-streams that around it run;
Far on yon summit, turning eastward, stand!

God! let me rather die than thus, child-led,
Totter about the world an infant's slave--
Ay! die, and darkly slumber in the grave!--
Peace! proud one, bow thine unsubmitting head;
Peace! soon the light-streams shall thine eyelids lave,
And wash this barren blindness from thy soul,
Till these dark mystic vapours backward roll,
And leave all nature in thy sight outspread.

We are upon the summit now. Ho! boy,
Place me where I shall see the sun arise,
When its great glory lightens up; mine eyes--
Oh! that I thus should be an infant's toy!--
See, now the morning streaks the Eastern skies!
Ay! boy, I feel the light-spring bubbling up;
My lips are parch'd, and thirsting for the cup
That now brims up my everlasting joy.

There is a low thin cloud along the sky,
That melts away apace to brightest gold!
Ay! boy, so shall my clouds melt fold on fold,
Till glory flood my vision utterly.
The sun! the sun! I see it upward roll'd,--
Day for the world, but life, fire-life for me,
Smiting asunder Death's night-mystery
With lightning-blade of strength and ecstasy!

Now, on to work and action, seeing clear--
Blindness swift throwing to Time's charnel-place--
Eyeing, unscathed, the Sun-god face to face!
Ho! light! more light! dissolving sphere on sphere!
Would that my very life could lighten space,
Shining out like some constellation bright,
Back beating all the myrmidons of Night,
With starry splendors flashing sword and spear!

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