Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, by LEWIS MORRIS (1833-1907)



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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Far in the west sinks down the sun
Last Line: "behold, the dawn is breaking; let us go."


FAR in the west sinks down the Sun
On bars of violet and gold,
A soft breeze springs up fresh and cold,
And darkness a transparent pall
Upon the waiting earth begins to fall,
And, decked with lucent gems of orbed light,
Walks forth the sable Night,
And once again the unfailing miracle is done.

Ineffable, illimitable, immense,
Wonder of wonders, mystery of Space,
How can a finite vision meet thy face?
How shall not our poor eyes, dazzled and dim,
Which see but thy vast circle's outward rim,
Sink touched before thy gaze with impotence?
How shall our feeble voices dare to hymn
Thy infinite glories -- voices which were best
To mortal loves and earth's poor joys addrest?
How seek our earthly limits to transcend,
And, without halt or pause,
Soaring beyond the twilight of our laws,
Touch with a feeble hand on glories without end?

Nay, great are these indeed
And infinite, but not so great as He
Their Maker who has formed them, who made me,
Who can in fancy leap, outward and outward still
Beyond our System and its farthest star,
Beyond the greater Systems ranged afar,
To which our faintest suns are satellites, and no more --
Beyond, beyond, beyond, and strive to fill
The illimitable void which never sense
Nor thought alone may compass or contain,
Then with a whirling brain
Return to the great Centre of all light,
Which doth control and bound the Infinite,
And, looking to the undiscovered Sun,
Find all perplexity and longing done,
And am content to wonder and to adore.

This 'tis alone
Which doth console and soothe our feeble thought,
Faint with the too great strain to comprehend
A Universe, which owns nor source nor end.
Wherever through the boundless wastes we stray,
For ever and for ever, some faint ray
Of the great central Sun, the hidden Will,
Attends our wanderings still;
Beyond the utmost limits of the sky,
Unseen, yet seen, the gaze of an Eternal Eye.
No waste of systems lies around,
But a great Rule by which all things are bound.
A changeless order circles sun with sun;
One great Will pulses through, and makes them one.
System on system, vast or small,
One great Intelligence directs them all.
No longer from the endless maze we shrink,
Like those who on some sea-cliff's dreadful brink
Long to fling down into the empty air
And lose the pain of living, and to be
Sunk in the deep abysses of the sea;
To lose the pain of living and the care,
Which dogs life like its shadow.
Nay, no dread
Have we who know a great Sun overhead,
Which shines upon us always, unbeheld.
How should our eyes behold what is too great
For our imperfect state?
How should our minds reach to it; how attain
With a too feeble brain,
To comprehend the Unbounded, the Immense,
Incomprehensible by finite sense? --
How through the Finite view the Infinite,
Except by this clear Light?

That is the light, indeed,
Which lights all souls which come upon the earth.
That is the central Sun which on our birth
Shone, and will shine upon us till the end;
A central Will which holds the worlds in space;
A Presence, though we look not on its face,
Which sows a cosmic order through the waste of things;
A Being, all the beatings of whose wings
Are secular wastes of Time; of whose great soul
Creations are but moods, in whose vast mind
Antinomies of Thought repose combined,
Till those which seem to us as changeless laws
Show but as phases of the Unchanging Cause,
And we and all things fade and pass away,
Lost in the effulgence of the Boundless Day.

Let, then, unbounded Space,
Sown thick with worlds, encompass us; we care
No whit for it, nor shall our dazzled eyes
This waste of Worlds surprise,
Which have looked on its Maker, who is more
Than all his work can be, but not the less
Dwells in each human soul that looks on Him
Albeit with vision dim;
Whose constant Presence all our lives confess,
Of whom we are a part, and closer far
Than is the furthest, most unmeasured star,
Than are His great suns, big with fruitful strife,
Seeing that we are a portion of His Life,
Seeing that we hold His Essence -- some clear spark,
Which shines when all creation else grows dark,
And are, however impotent and small,
One with the Will that made and governs all.

* * * *

And now the night grows thin;
A subtle air of newness seems to stir
Before the dawn, as if its harbinger
To prisoned souls within,
Proclaiming the near coming of the day.
Then Darkness, a great bird, with raven wing,
Flies to the furthest west, and in her stead
Young Day, an orient conqueror overhead,
Looks down, and all that waste of worlds has fled;
And once again the Eternal, mystic Birth
Is born upon the earth,
And once again the round of wholesome life,
The doubt-dispelling stir and joyous strife,
Chases the dreadful visions of the night,
Lost in the increasing light;
And from the spheres a still voice seems to say,
"Awake, arise, adore, behold the Day!
It is enough to be, nor question why;
It is enough to work our work and die;
It is enough to feel and not to know.
Behold, the Dawn is breaking; let us go."





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