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Poem by Mathilde Blind
ACROSS the barren moors the wild, wild wind Went sweeping on, and with his sobs and shrieks Filled the still night, and tore the woof of clouds Through which the moon did shed her cold clear light. From age to age a houseless wanderer he-- Neither of heaven, nor yet of earth, but doomed For evermore to waver 'twixt the two:-- Begging the moon with moans to take him up Into her charmèd calm; now with a wail, Piteous and low, beseeching that the earth Might fold him to her bosom, but in vain! A lonely outcast, frenzied does he storm Wildly from land to land, from sea to sea, Driving the clouds before him, ploughing up The shaking sod, splitting the tow'ring masts, And laying low the oaks of thousand years. But I that night ne'er closed an eye in sleep, For I did see him wand'ring o'er the moor-- A giant phantom lost in midnight gloom, Flitting a restless shadow 'twixt the earth And round orbed moon; loose tattered folds of clouds, Ragged with ages, swept behind, as he With Titan strides did bridge the rocky chasms; Oh how he sobbed and shrieked, and howled and roared, Torn with eternal hunger after home. So roars the lion from Numidian peaks, Swaying his manèd head from side to side, As low, then loud and louder swell his tones, Till big with horror thro' the forest lone They roll towards the plain, curdling the blood Of flocks and herds returning to the fold. So howls the famished wolf across the waste Siberian snows, with glare of restless eyes, Making a hideous brilliance in the dark. Now worn away, the wild wind's voice would die Fainting with its excess; then draw a sigh-- Sounding far off, and then a soughing wail, A roar, a shriek, to pierce the ears of night; So on and on, through all the livelong night; And all the livelong night I tossed about; His stormy voice, it would not let me rest, But woke an echo in me, rolling on Over my boundless waste of soul, till all The weary longings and the phantoms wild, The cravings with their thirst unquenchable, The doubts--dark looming in the nether mists, Rose up in tumult, shrieking with one voice: "Is there no goal? shall we for aye and aye Be hurried restlessly through endless space? Oh has the storm no nest? the soul no home? And the foundation stone of all my being Shook, and a flood, brackish with tears unshed, Surged o'er and o'er me.--Tortured I arose, Went to the open casement, and looked out.-- There was a lull.--Upon the gravelled talks And smooth-cut sward, patches of moonlight lay; The clouds were swept away; and sharp and clear The trees did cast their shadows on the ground. Weird-like and moonlit the wan brood of night Did flit adown the ridges of the moors, Up from the river, and from out the trees, Gliding with noiseless movements in and out The pale moonlight, making my flesh to creep; And sick with fear I turned me to my rest-- But not to sleep, for he on dewèd wings Had shyly fled before the moaning wind, Who now arose again in all his strength, And tore along, blasting the peace of night; And the old clock did toll the weary hours, As one by one night dropped them from her lap, And weary, wearily I counted them, With burning eyes and with a burning brain. But, lo! What golden touch falls on the curtain now? Up from my bed I spring--I look, I see A trembling light gleam faintly in the east, A trembling light, while all around is dark; It grows, it deepens into liquid gold And glowing orange and vermilion bright; It spreads along in billowy ripples, like A glittering ocean when the tide rolls in. Smiling, it greets the mist-enshrouded earth, And draws her up with hill and tree and field, Driving the host of pris'ning fogs to flight, That brooding vengeance fly behind the hills, And gath'ring force from night, swoop in one mass Of densest black across the swooning earth. Trees weep, and long drawn sighs float here and there; Have shadows then wiped out the golden light? See! see! the strangling cloud Sinks back; pierced by the arrow of the dawn, Her blood--it trickles on the grass, and all The vague wan children of the night, they fly In dire confusion westward. . . . Hark! oh hark! The lovely morn now blows his silver horn, And like a lavish prodigal he strews Red roses, thick as sands on amber shores Along heaven's eastern floor: for now the sun, The radiant conqueror of the night, steps forth Upon the gorgeous path, with dazzling shield, Greeted by pealing chants as he begins His grand triumphal march: hills, vales, and streams, Laugh glowing up to him; the heavy tears Wept through the night, now sparkle on the grass Like orient pearls, well knowing that the sun Will kiss them all away; the merry birds Shake out their plumage wet with drops, and flit In airy gambols twitt'ring to and fro; The flowers smile again, and shyly play With morning rays. But in the west, a white mist like a dream With languid rooks, floats o'er the winding stream, And wearied out, the wind, a phantom, strides On with the faded moon and flick'ring star, Towards the hazy stretch of western moors; His strong voice dying slowly as he goes. But by my side a radiant spirit stood, A sunbeam, whispering, with a smile, "Behold! After the darkness still there falls a light; After the storm a trancèd calm there falls. There is a light; yea, and there is a rest!" And all the weary and the restless gusts That had been shaking at my roots of being Were lulled, a silence came, and dewy sleep Fell on my burning eyes and burning brain.
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