A Dream Canto I Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave A paradise for a sect; the savage too From forth the loftiest fashion of his sleep Guesses at Heaven: pity these have not Traced upon vellum or wild Indian leaf The shadows of melodious utterance. But bare of laurel they live, dream, and die; For Poesy alone can tell her dreams, With the fine spell of words alone can save Imagination from the sable charm And dumb enchantment. Who alive can say, 'Thou art no Poet; mayst not tell thy dreams'? Since every man whose soul is not a clod Hath visions, and would speak, if he had loved And been well nurtured in his mother tongue. Whether the dream now purpos'd to rehearse Be poet's or fanatic's will be known When this warm scribe my hand is in the grave. Methought I stood where trees of every clime, Palm, myrtle, oak, and sycamore, and beech, With plantain, and spice blossoms, made a screen; In neighbourhood of fountains, by the noise Soft showering in mine ears, and, by the touch Of scent, not far from roses. Turning round I saw an arbour with a drooping roof Of trellis vines, and bells, and larger blooms, Like floral censers swinging light in air; Before its wreathèd doorway, on a mound Of moss, was spread a feast of summer fruits, Which, nearer seen, seem'd refuse of a meal By angel tasted or our Mother Eve; For empty shells were scattered on the grass, And grape stalks but half bare, and remnants more, Sweet smelling, whose pure kinds I could not know. Still was more plenty than the fabled horn Thrice emptied could pour forth, at banqueting For Proserpine return'd to her own fields, Where the white heifers low. And appetite More yearning than on earth I ever felt Growing within, I ate deliciously; And, after not long, thirsted, for thereby Stood a cool vessel of transparent juice Sipp'd by the wander'd bee, the which I took, And, pledging all the mortals of the world, And all the dead whose names are in our lips, Drank. That full draught is parent of my theme. No Asian poppy nor elixir fine Of the soon fading jealous Caliphat, No poison gender'd in close monkish cell To thin the scarlet conclave of old men, Could so have rapt unwilling life away. Amongst the fragrant husks and berries crush'd, Upon the grass I struggled hard against The domineering potion; but in vain: The cloudy swoon came on, and down I sunk Like a Silenus on an antique vase. How long I slumber'd 'tis a chance to guess. When sense of life return'd, I started up As if with wings; but the fair trees were gone, The mossy mound and arbour were no more: I look'd around upon the carved sides Of an old sanctuary with roof august, Builded so high, it seem'd that filmèd clouds Might spread beneath, as o'er the stars of heaven; So old the place was, I remember'd none The like upon the earth: what I had seen Of grey cathedrals, buttress'd walls, rent towers, The superannuations of sunk realms, Or Nature's rocks toil'd hard in waves and winds, Seem'd but the faulture of decrepit things To that eternal domèd monument. Upon the marble at my feet there lay Store of strange vessels and large draperies, Which needs had been of dyed asbestos wove, Or in that place the moth could not corrupt, So white the linen, so, in some, distinct Ran imageries from a sombre loom. All in a mingled heap confus'd there lay Robes, golden tongs, censer and chafing dish, Girdles, and chains, and holy jewelries -- Turning from these with awe, once more I raised My eyes to fathom the space every way; The embossed roof, the silent massy range Of columns north and south, ending in mist Of nothing, then to eastward, where black gates Were shut against the sunrise evermore. Then to the west I look'd, and saw far off An image, huge of feature as a cloud, At level of whose feet an altar slept, To be approach'd on either side by steps, And marble balustrade, and patient travail To count with toil the innumerable degrees. Towards the altar sober paced I went, Repressing haste, as too unholy there; And, coming nearer, saw beside the shrine One minist'ring; and there arose a flame. When in mid May the sickening East wind Shifts sudden to the south, the small warm rain Melts out the frozen incense from all flowers, And fills the air with so much pleasant health That even the dying man forgets his shroud; Even so that lofty sacrificial fire, Sending forth Maian incense, spread around Forgetfulness of everything but bliss, And clouded all the altar with soft smoke, From whose white fragrant curtains thus I heard Language pronounced: 'If thou canst not ascend 'These steps, die on that marble where thou art. 'Thy flesh, near cousin to the common dust, 'Will parch for lack of nutriment thy bones 'Will wither in few years, and vanish so 'That not the quickest eye could find a grain 'Of what thou now art on that pavement cold. 'The sands of thy short life are spent this hour, 'And no hand in the universe can turn 'Thy hourglass, if these gummed leaves be burnt 'Ere thou canst mount up these immortal steps.' I heard, I look'd: two senses both at once, So fine, so subtle, felt the tyranny Of that fierce threat and the hard task proposed. Prodigious seem'd the toil, the leaves were yet Burning when suddenly a palsied chill Struck from the pavèd level up my limbs, And was ascending quick to put cold grasp Upon those streams that pulse beside the throat: I shriek'd; and the sharp anguish of my shriek Stung my own ears I strove hard to escape The numbness; strove to gain the lowest step. Slow, heavy, deadly was my pace: the cold Grew stifling, suffocating, at the heart; And when I clasp'd my hands I felt them not. One minute before death, my iced foot touch'd The lowest stair; and as it touch'd, life seem'd To pour in at the toes: I mounted up, As once fair angels on a ladder flew From the green turf to Heaven. 'Holy Power,' Cried I, approaching near the hornèd shrine, 'What am I that should so be saved from death? 'What am I that another death come not 'To choke my utterance sacrilegious here?' Then said the veilèd shadow 'Thou hast felt 'What 'tis to die and live again before 'Thy fated hour. That thou hadst power to do so 'Is thy own safety; thou hast dated on 'Thy doom.' 'High Prophetess,' said I, 'purge off, 'Benign, if so it please thee, my mind's film.' 'None can usurp this height,' return'd that shade, 'But those to whom the miseries of the world 'Are misery, and will not let them rest. 'All else who find a haven in the world, 'Where they may thoughtless sleep away their days, 'If by a chance into this fane they come, 'Rot on the pavement where thou rottedst half.' 'That I am favour'd for unworthiness, 'By such propitious parley medicin'd 'In sickness not ignoble, I rejoice, 'Aye, and could weep for love of such award.' So answer'd I, continuing, 'If it please, 'Majestic shadow, tell me where I am, 'Whose altar this; for whom this incense curls; 'What image this whose face I cannot see, 'For the broad marble knees; and who thou art, 'Of accent feminine so courteous?' Then the tall shade, in drooping linens veiled, Spake out, so much more earnest, that her breath Stirred the thin folds of gauze that drooping hung About a golden censer from her hand Pendent; and by her voice I knew she shed Long treasured tears. 'This temple, sad and lone, 'Is all spared from the thunder of a war 'Foughten long since by giant hierarchy 'Against rebellion: this old image here, 'Whose carvèd features wrinkled as he fell, 'Is Saturn's; I Moneta, left supreme 'Sole priestess of this desolation.' I had no words to answer, for my tongue, Useless, could find about its roofèd home No syllable of a fit majesty To make rejoinder to Moneta's mourn. There was a silence, while the altar's blaze Was fainting for sweet food: I look'd thereon, And on the pavèd floor, where nigh were piled Faggots of cinnamon, and many heaps Of other crispèd spice wood then again I look'd upon the altar, and its horns Whiten'd with ashes, and its lang'rous flame, And then upon the offerings again; And so by turns till sad Moneta cried, 'The sacrifice is done, but not the less 'Will I be kind to thee for thy good will. 'My power, which to me is still a curse, 'Shall be to thee a wonder; for the scenes 'Still swooning vivid through my globèd brain 'With an electral changing misery 'Thou shalt with those dull mortal eyes behold, 'Free from all pain, if wonder pain thee not.' As near as an immortal's sphered words Could to a mother's soften, were these last: And yet I had a terror of her robes, And chiefly of the veils, that from her brow Hung pale, and curtain'd her in mysteries That made my heart too small to hold its blood. This saw that Goddess, and with sacred hand Parted the veils. Then saw I a wan face, Not pin'd by human sorrows, but bright blanch'd By an immortal sickness which kills not; It works a constant change, which happy death Can put no end to; deathwards progressing To no death was that visage; it had pass'd The lily and the snow; and beyond these I must not think now, though I saw that face But for her eyes I should have fled away. They held me back, with a benignant light Soft mitigated by divinest lids Half closed, and visionless entire they seem'd Of all external things; they saw me not, But in blank splendour beam'd like the mild moon, Who comforts those she sees not, who knows not What eyes are upward cast. As I had found A grain of gold upon a mountain side, And twinged with avarice strain'd out my eyes To search its sullen entrails rich with ore, So at the view of sad Moneta's brow I ached to see what things the hollow brain Behind enwombed: what high tragedy In the dark secret chambers of her skull Was acting, that could give so dread a stress To her cold lips, and fill with such a light Her planetary eyes, and touch her voice With such a sorrow -- 'Shade of Memory!' Cried I, with act adorant at her feet, 'By all the gloom hung round thy fallen house, 'By this last temple, by the golden age, 'By great Apollo, thy dear Foster Child, 'And by thyself, forlorn divinity, 'The pale Omega of a withered race, 'Let me behold, according as thou saidst, 'What in thy brain so ferments to and fro!' No sooner had this conjuration pass'd My devout lips, than side by side we stood (Like a stunt bramble by a solemn pine) Deep in the shady sadness of a vale, Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn, Far from the fiery noon and eve's one star. Onward I look'd beneath the gloomy boughs, And saw, what first I thought an image huge, Like to the image pedestal'd so high In Saturn's temple. Then Moneta's voice Came brief upon mine ear 'So Saturn sat When he had lost his realms ' whereon there grew A power within me of enormous ken To see as a god sees, and take the depth Of things as nimbly as the outward eye Can size and shape pervade. The lofty theme At those few words hung vast before my mind, With half unravel'd web. I set myself Upon an eagle's watch, that I might see, And seeing ne'er forget. No stir of life Was in this shrouded vale, not so much air As in the zoning of a summer's day Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass, But where the dead leaf fell there did it rest. A stream went voiceless by, still deaden'd more By reason of the fallen divinity Spreading more shade; the Naiad 'mid her reeds Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips. Along the margin sand large footmarks went No farther than to where old Saturn's feet Had rested, and there slept, how long a sleep! Degraded, cold, upon the sodden ground His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead, Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed, While his bow'd head seem'd listening to the Earth, His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.