Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. A DREAM OF HUMAN LIFE, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. A DREAM OF HUMAN LIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I dreamed that I saw a wild and lonely promontory
Last Line: Went past it to all parts of the world.
Subject(s): Life; Mankind; Human Race


I DREAMED that I saw a wild and lonely promontory on which the sea beat;
and the waves dashed against rocky cliffs and bastions, and flew in spray over
the edges of them, and clouds drifted on overhead, mingling with the sea-mist
below in one veil which wrapped and shadowed all, save where now and then a
watery beam from the sun glanced through.
And in the midst among the rocks and crags was (it seemed to me) an ancient
ancient fane, like some far forgotten Abbey Church built in an elder
world—nor was it easy to say whether it was indeed built up of ordinary
masonry, or whether by some rude art it had been shapen from the very crags
themselves. But round about it and over the promontory on all sides the rocks
and cliffs were carven in strange forms—sea-monsters half submerged beneath
the waves, and serpents stretching along the bases of the cliffs, and evil
shapes thrown up on land and grasping at the rocks with iron claws; and beside
them forms heroic of men and women on ledges here and there and pinnacles,
through the mist half-shown—as it might have been S. George against the
dragon, or Andromeda to the rock-face chained, or Perseus with the Gorgon's head
in hand.
But who they really were I could not well see. Only ever as the spray and
wind wreathed by, the figures as in mortal combat seemed to move and menace each
other, and serpents writhed and sea-beasts plunged through waves. And from the
ancient fane came the sound of music continually—now low and distant, now
rising with the storm and mingling with the ocean-roar and wild cry of the wind:
while overhead amid the breaking lights was a fluttering as of Wings.
And presently a change came over my dream; and looking again I saw that the
storm had ceased, and the promontory was lying there in the sunshine, calm and
peaceful; and the rocks were black no more, but full of color and glory; and the
hero figures were in their places, at rest and beautiful to look on; and even
the monsters that had seemed so terrible had a grace of their own, transformed
in the peaceful light to harmless grotesque things. And the whole land seemed to
thrill with a subterranean music, and on a high crag brooding over all was a
figure with arms outstretched.
And once more my dream changed; and I looked, and the rocks had become like
ordinary rocks and sea-cliffs, and grasses and wild flowers grew, and little
habitations nestled, in the hollows of them; and the sea crawled about the
boulders lying below them; and the promontory ran out into the ocean, and ships
went past it to all parts of the world.





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