Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. HIGH IN MY CHAMBER, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. HIGH IN MY CHAMBER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: High in my chamber I can hear the deep bells chime
Last Line: Through the night rising I hear.
Subject(s): Exiles; Prisons & Prisoners; Convicts


HIGH in my chamber I hear the deep bells chime—Midnight.
The great city sleeps with arms outstretched supine under the
stars—deep-breathing, hushed;
Into the kennels of sleep are gone the loud-baying cares of day, and hunted
man rests for a moment.

The spangled stream has gone.
The long procession of carriages through fashionable quarters, the stream
of faces past gay shop-windows,
And high above them the weary face of the needle-woman straining the last
hour of daylight—
All are gone.
Into the hidden chamber of the dark the stream of life has poured itself,
For the conception of a new day.

The note of sorrow sleeps,
The weary throbbing brain and heart are lulled—assuaged is the tossing
sea;
The wretched prisoner—the prisoner of the needle and dingy
attic—is released: she dreams her impossible dream;
The prisoners of here and there, and of Necessity gripping close as a vice,
are at liberty: they roam out beyond the star-circled walls of time and hear
strange secrets whispered.
But the hour swings onward.
To good and evil alike—to the watching and the sleeping heart alike;
To the mother as she lies beside her infant, sleeping, yet wakeful to its
slightest movement; to the father as he sleeps beside the mother;
To the young man as he sleeps beside his new-made bride, worshiping
sleepless on her bosom;
To the folded bud of childhood, sleeping deep as on a tranquil sea—to
the bud just disclosed from Eden; and to the child-like relaxed sleep again of
extreme old age;
The hour swings onward.

To the waking fever of remorse;
To the long cadaverous vigil of physical pain;
And to the long vigil of the heart-broken wife praying vainly for respite
from thought;
The hour swings onward.
High in heaven over the supine city—over the wilder-ness of roofs
beneath the stars—
The hour swings surely onward.

Again the great bell booms.
Blossoming out of silence the rich music swells—Then dies
away—the second stroke of midnight.
And now as if awoken by that note of warning, over the vast city clash a
thousand brazen chattering tongues,
Ding, ding, clack, clack,
From far and near, from railway-tower and steepl—blurring the
thoughtful night—ding ding, clack clack,
With scrambling stroke they hurry to tell the hour—and so straightway
are silent.
But the great bell goes booming slowly on,
High in its tower in heaven among the stars,
Thoughtful, deep-voiced, alone—till it has finished.

So pass the hours, the spacious solemn hours, the shrill chattering hours,
Out into the night they pass, out into the morning,
For the conception of a new day.

2

High in my chamber I hear the deep bells chime,
Deep deep deep, past all mortal hearing, down in the kennels of sleep below
the world—
The slow and muffled chime.

The strokes of the changing hours of Man,
The slow spacious thoughts of the changing generations—
Through the night rising I hear.
The thoughts of them who gather the generations into the great fold;
Through whose hearts the trampling millions pass—as surely indeed as
through city streets;
The thoughts of them through whose hearts the weary-exiles, the prisoners
of time, pass, liberating their souls in prayer till the air is charged with
lightning—
Through the night rising I hear.

These are they who dream the impossible dream—and it comes true;
Who hear the silent prayers, who accept the trampling millions, as the
earth dreaming accepts the interminable feet of her children;
Who dream the dream which all men always declare futile;
Who dream the hour which is not yet on earth—
And lo! it strikes.

3

High in my chamber I hear the deep Bell chime.

Softly softly up through the universe,
Vibrant in every leaf soft-answering, scarce audible ascending,
The great undertone—the deep rich musical solvent, swelling over the
world, saturated with love, soft like the winds of spring (O who will give it
utterance?)—
Through the night rising I hear.





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