In the pale afternoon the clouds go by
Aimlessly roving in the quiet sky.
His head between his hands, the dreamer weaves
His dream of clouds and Autumn-colored leaves.
Ah, his intimate sorrow, his long sighs,
And the glad radiance that has dimmed his eyes!
And all the tender glances, the blond tresses,
The rose hands over-brimming with caresses,
The sudden faces smiling everywhere
In the gold-dusted curtains of the air!
In the pale afternoon
A friendly faerie maiden comes to me
And tells me tales of many a secret thing
Fraught with the spell and music of the moon,
And I have learned what wonder the birds sing,
And what the breezes bring over the sea,
All that lies hidden in the mist or gleams,
A fleeting presence, in a young girl's dreams.
And once the thirst of infinite desire
Possessed me like a fever, and I said,
"I want to feel all radiance, fragrance, fire
And joy of life within me, to inspire
My soul forever!" And the faerie maid
Called me to follow her, and when he spoke
It was as if a harp to the soft stroke
Of loving hands had wakened suddenly:
She syllabled hope's language, calling me.
Oh, thirst for the idea! From the height
Of a great mountain forested with night
She showed me all the stars and told their names;
It was a golden garden wherein grows
The fleur-de-lys of heaven, leaved with flames.
And I cried, "More!" and then the dawn arose.
The dawn came blushing; on her forehead beamed
Delicate splendor, and to me it seemed
A girl that, opening her casement, sees
Her lover watching her, and with surprise
Reddens but cannot hide her from his eyes.
And I cried, "More!" The faerie maiden smiled
And called the flowers, and the flowers were
Lovely and fresh and moist with essences, -
The virgin rose that in the woods grows wild,
The gentle lily tall and shy and fair,
The daisy glad and timid as a child,
Poppies and marigolds, and all the rare
Blossoms that freight with dreams the evening air.
But I cried, "More!" And then the winds brushed by
Bearing the laughter of the world, the cry
Of all glad lovers in the woods of Spring,
And echoes, and all pleasant murmuring
Of rustling leaf or southward-flying bird,
Unworded songs and musics never heard.
The faerie maiden, smiling, led me where
The sky is stretched over the world, above
Our heights and depths of hoping and despair,
Beyond the reach of singing and of love.
And then the tore the veil. And I say there
That all was dawn. And in the deeps there
A woman's Face radiant exceedingly.-
Ah, never, Muses, never could ye say
The holy joyance that enkindled me!-