The dream fell on him one calm summer night,
Stealing amid the waving of the corn,
That waited, golden, for the harvest morn--
The dream fell on him through the still moonlight.
The land lay silent, and the new mown hay
Rested upon it like a dreamy sleep;
And stealing softly o'er each yellow heap,
The night-breeze bore sweet incense-breath away.
The dew lay thick upon the unstirr'd leaves;
The glow-worm glisten'd brightly as he pass'd;
The thrush still chaunted, but the swallows fast
Hied to their home beneath lone cottage eaves.
He had been straying through the land that day,
Dreaming of beauty as some dream of love;
And all the earth beneath, the heaven above,
In mirror'd glory on his spirit lay.
And, as he went, from every sight and sound,
From silence, from the sweetness in the air,
From earth, from heaven, from nature everywhere,
Gleam'd forth a deep dim thought and clasp'd him round.
The thought oppress'd him with a weary joy,
Seeking for ever for its perfect shape,
That from his eager eyes would still escape,
Flatter him onward--then his hopes destroy.
He sought it in the bosom of the hills;
He sought it in the silence of the woods,
Their sunny nooks and shady solitudes;
He sought it in the fountains and the rills.
He watch'd the stars come faintly through the skies;
And on his upturn'd brow the clear moon shone,
Flooding his heart like pale Endymion;
But still the thought hid dimly from his eyes;
Its voice came to him on the evening breeze,
That flutter'd faintly through his summer dreams--
He heard it through the flowing of the streams;
He heard it softly rustling through the trees.
Yet still the thought that murmur'd through his heart,
He found not anywhere about the land;
Ne'er saw its spirit shape before him stand,
Though from all nature it seem'd prone to start.
And thus he wander'd homeward, dreaming still
Of all the beauty that had haunted him,
With mystic meanings shadowy and dim,
By woodland, and by meadow, vale and hill:
He wander'd homeward, and in musing mood
Stay'd his slow steps beside a marble block,
Hewn from some far unstain'd Italian rock,
That for his shaping chisel waiting stood.
Then his heart spoke out to him, "Not alone
This thought divine hides in the streams and woods,
Seeking expression through their solitudes,
Perchance e'en lies it in this unhewn stone.
It may be that the soul which fills all space,
And speaks up to us from each thing we see,
In words that are for ever mystery,
Within this Parian, too, hath resting-place."
He gazed on, dreaming through the dim twilight,
And to his inner sight the marble grew
Clear and translucent, so that, gazing through,
A mystic shape form'd to his wondering sight,
That seem'd imprison'd in the Parian cell,
Seeking in vain release and utterance;
For evermore, with upward beaming glance,
Framing the words its lips could never tell.
The vision pass'd; but still with unseen power,
It stirr'd within his heart by night and day;
And swift to hew the prison walls away,
The Sculptor toil'd, love-strengthen'd, from that hour.
He wrought with patience, and at length, amazed,
Beheld the mystic form all perfect stand,
Released in beauty by his artist hand,
He scarce knew how, and wonder'd as he gazed.
It was a lovely form whose lifted arms
Yearn'd towards heaven with all its radiant frame,
As though the soul within on wings of flame
Up from the earth would waft its angel charms;
But still one touch retain'd it to the ground;
So that the love that beam'd up from its eyes
Flow'd evermore towards the distant skies,
And yet to earth the shape remain'd spell-bound.
The dream fell on him one calm summer night;
And thus in that fair form still heavenward turning
Eternal aspiration, endless yearning,
Stood now the Thought before his gladden'd sight.