Songs of Olden Magic--II. The Robing of the King

A poem by George William Russell

--"His candle shined upon my head, and by his light I walked
through darkness."--Job, xxix. 3

On the bird of air blue-breasted
glint the rays of gold,
And a shadowy fleece above us
waves the forest old,
Far through rumorous leagues of midnight
stirred by breezes warm.
See the old ascetic yonder,
Ah, poor withered form!
Where he crouches wrinkled over
by unnumbered years
Through the leaves the flakes of moonfire
fall like phantom tears.
At the dawn a kingly hunter
passed proud disdain,
Like a rainbow-torrent scattered
flashed his royal train.
Now the lonely one unheeded
seeks earth's caverns dim,
Never king or princes will robe them
radiantly as him.
Mid the deep enfolding darkness,
follow him, oh seer,
While the arrow will is piercing
fiery sphere on sphere.
Through the blackness leaps and sparkles
gold and amethyst,
Curling, jetting and dissolving
in a rainbow mist.
In the jewel glow and lunar
radiance rise there
One, a morning star in beauty,
young, immortal, fair.
Sealed in heavy sleep, the spirit
leaves its faded dress,
Unto fiery youth returning
out of weariness.
Music as for one departing,
joy as for a king,
Sound and swell, and hark! above him
cymbals triumphing.
Fire an aureole encircling
suns his brow with gold
Like to one who hails the morning
on the mountains old.
Open mightier vistas changing
human loves to scorns,
And the spears of glory pierce him
like a Crown of Thorns.
As the sparry rays dilating
o'er his forehead climb
Once again he knows the Dragon
Wisdom of the prime.
High and yet more high to freedom
as a bird he springs,
And the aureole outbreathing,
gold and silver wings
Plume the brow and crown the seraph.
Soon his journey done
He will pass our eyes that follow,
sped beyond the sun.
None may know the darker radiance,
King, will there be thine.
Rapt above the Light and hidden
in the Dark Divine.

--September 15, 1895

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