The Dream of the Children

A poem by George William Russell

The children awoke in their dreaming
While earth lay dewy and still:
They followed the rill in its gleaming
To the heart-light of the hill.

Its sounds and sights were forsaking
The world as they faded in sleep,
When they heard a music breaking
Out from the heart-light deep.

It ran where the rill in its flowing
Under the star-light gay
With wonderful colour was glowing
Like the bubbles they blew in their play.

From the misty mountain under
Shot gleams of an opal star:
Its pathways of rainbow wonder
Rayed to their feet from afar.

From their feet as they strayed in the meadow
It led through caverned aisles,
Filled with purple and green light and shadow
For mystic miles on miles.

The children were glad; it was lonely
To play on the hill-side by day.
"But now," they said, "we have only
To go where the good people stray."

For all the hill-side was haunted
By the faery folk come again;
And down in the heart-light enchanted
Were opal-coloured men.

They moved like kings unattended
Without a squire or dame,
But they wore tiaras splendid
With feathers of starlight flame.

They laughed at the children over
And called them into the heart:
"Come down here, each sleepless rover:
We will show you some of our art."

And down through the cool of the mountain
The children sank at the call,
And stood in a blazing fountain
And never a mountain at all.

The lights were coming and going
In many a shining strand,
For the opal fire-kings were blowing
The darkness out of the land.

This golden breath was a madness
To set a poet on fire,
And this was a cure for sadness,
And that the ease of desire.

And all night long over Eri
They fought with the wand of light
And love that never grew weary
The evil things of night.

They said, as dawn glimmered hoary,
"We will show yourselves for an hour;"
And the children were changed to a glory
By the beautiful magic of power.

The fire-kings smiled on their faces
And called them by olden names,
Till they towered like the starry races
All plumed with the twilight flames.

They talked for a while together,
How the toil of ages oppressed;
And of how they best could weather
The ship of the world to its rest.

The dawn in the room was straying:
The children began to blink,
When they heard a far voice saying,
"You can grow like that if you think!"

The sun came in yellow and gay light:
They tumbled out of the cot,
And half of the dream went with daylight
And half was never forgot.

--July 15, 1896

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