O hot-house deep in the forest’s heart!
O doors forever sealed!
Lo, all that lives beneath thy dome,
And in my soul, and the likeness of these things!
The thoughts of a princess who is sick with hunger,
The listless mood of a mariner in the desert,
And brazen music at the windows
Of men who are sick to death!
Seek out the coolest corners
And you think of a woman who has swooned on a day of harvest.
Postillions have entered the courtyard of the hospital,
And yonder goes an Uhlan who has turned sick-nurse.
Behold it all by moonlight!
(Nothing, nothing is in its rightful place!)
And you think of a madwoman haled before the judges,
A warship in full sail on the waters of a canal,
Birds of the night perched among lilies,
And the knell of a passing-bell at the midday hour of Angelus.
And yonder – beneath those domes of glass –
A group of sick folk halted amid the meadows,
An odour of ether abroad on the sunny air!
My God, my God, when shall we feel the rain
And the snow, and the wind, in this close house of glass?
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.
Haydon! forgive me that I cannot speak
Definitively of these mighty things;
Forgive me, that I have not eagle’s wings,
That what I want I know not where to seek,
And think that I would not be over-meek,
In rolling out upfollowed thunderings,
Even to the steep of Heliconian springs,
Were I of ample strength for such a freak.
Think, too, that all these numbers should be thine;
Whose else? In this who touch thy vesture’s hem?
For, when men stared at what was most divine
With brainless idiotism and o’erwise phlegm,
Thou hadst beheld the full Hesperian shine
Of their star in the east, and gone to worship them.
II. On Seeing The Elgin Marbles.
My spirit is too weak – mortality
Weighs heavily upon me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep,
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time — with a billowy main —
A sun — a shadow of a magnitude.