I have been pondering what our teachers call
The mystery of Pain; and lo! my thought
After it's half-blind reaching out has caught
This truth and held it fast. We may not fall
Beyond our mounting; stung by life's annoy,
Deeper we feel the mystery of Joy.
Sometimes they steal across us like a breath
Of Eastern perfume in a darkened room,
These joys of ours; we grope on through the gloom
Seeking some common thing, and from its sheath
Unloose, unknowing, some bewildering scent
Of spice-thronged memories of the Orient.
Sometimes they dart across our turbid sky
Like a quick flash after a heated day.
A moment, where the sombrous shadows lay
We see a glory. Though it passed us by
No earthly power can filch that dazzling glow
From memory's eye, that instant's shine and show.
Life is so full of joys. The alluring sea,
This morning clear and placid, may, ere night,
Toss like a petulant child, and when the light
Of a new morning dawns sweep grand and free
A mighty power. If fierce, or mild, or bright,
With every tide flows in a fresh delight.
I can remember well when first I knew
The fragrance of white clover. There I lay
On the warm July grass and heard the play
Of sun-browned insects, and the breezes blew
To my drowsed sense the scent the blossoms had;
The subtle sweetness stayed, and I was glad.
Nor passed the gladness. Though the years have gone
(A many years, Beloved, since that day,)
Whenever by the roadside or away
In radiant summer fields, wandering alone
Or with glad children, to my restless sight
Shows that pale head, comes back the old delight.
Oh! the dark water, and the filling sail!
The scudding like a sea-mew, with the hand
Firm on the tiller! See, the red-shored land
Receding, as we brave the hastening gale!
White gleam the wave-tops, and the breakers' roar
Sounds thunderingly on the far distant shore.
This mad hair flying in the breeze blows wild
Across my face. See, there, the gathering squall,
That dark line to the eastward, watch it crawl
Stealthily towards us o'er the snow-wreaths piled
Close on each other! Ah! what joy to be
Drunk with salt air, in battle with the sea!
So many joys, and yet I have but told
Of simple things, the joys of air and sea!
Not all these things are worth one hour with thee,
One moment, when thy daring arms enfold
My body, and all other, meaner joys,
Fade from me like a child's forgotten toys.
One thought is ever with me, glorying all
Life's common aims. Surely will dawn a day
Bright with an unknown rapture, when thy way
Will be my journey-road, and I can call
These joys our joys, for thou wilt walk with me
Down budding pathways to the abounding sea.