O the beautiful strange visions seen within the silent night !1
Then when heavy eyelids weigh on heavy eyes that hate the light,2
When the careworn spirit, resting from the penance and the pain,3
Sees in dreams long-vanished Edens rich with love and life again.4
Then dark thoughts no more molest us : dull and leaden-hearted men,5
Cruel in their lust of riches, make not-breath seem bitter then.6
Doubt casts not its poisonous shadow. Slow despairs, that rankle deep,7
Pass away, as if for ever, exiled from the land of sleep.8
Then once more we see the faces that are laid beneath the mould ;9
Then we hear sweet-meaning voices—voices that we loved of old ;10
Then the stainless life returneth laughing through the merry hours11
On the ancient paths of childhood, sown around with starry flowers.12
Who would lose the dear illusion—who would wish to feel it less,13
Though it make the radiant morning thick with blight and barrenness ?14
Let the weary waking hours, forlorn of hope, creep slowly on,15
So on slumber’s couch we borrow joyaunce from the summers gone.16
O Sleep, dear to all, then dearest when strong sorrow bows us down,17
Charming care with golden hours, and smoothing out the furrowed frown ;18
Thou that blottest from existence half the fever and the fear19
Come, kind minister of healing, come, for thou art needed here.20
Come, as yesternight thou camest. I had deemed that nevermore,21
Save to grief, my darkened spirit should unlock its sealed door ;22
For within my breast I shuddered, shadowing forth the things unseen,23
And the Past, save in its sorrow, seemed as it had never been.24
For I thought on wasted life— I saw a fature fearful hour,25
Dread misgivings, formless terrors, evil sights of evil power,26
When the clock ticks slow, the minutes linger in their sullen flight,27
And the ghastly day’s oppression is but trebled in the night.28
When no more the shattered senses round the throne of reason dwell,29
Thinking every sight a spectre, every sound a passing bell ;30
When the mortal desolation falleth on the soul like rain,31
And the wild hell-phantoms dance and revel in the burning brain.32
Now the months and years of old, far from the outer feud and strife,33
Lay before me like a picture breathing with the breath of life ;34
And I saw my early home, as when it was a home to me,35
In a happy land, and fairer than bright lands beyond the sea.36
There it stood—the self-same village—even as in hours of old,37
When the stately sun descending dipt the dazzling panes in gold ;38
And methought for many an hour, yea many a peaceful day and night,39
All that space of earth was steeped in one delicious faery light.40
And I marvelled not, though round me clustering life and beauty grew41
In the paradisal stillness visited by forms I knew ;42
Yet there were beyond all others, features that I loved to trace43
Ah ! too truly I remember—for it was my mother’s face.44
’Twas no wonder that I knew thee, as thy kind eyes tarned to mine,45
Happy in my happiness, while I was thinking not of thine ;46
And I heard thy silver accents sweeter than all music flow47
Ah me, but the lapse of summers changes many things below !48
Mother, we will dwell together evermore,” I seemed to say,49
Far from hence life’s wheels are whirling ; scarce an echo comes this way.50
Here an uneventful rest shall fold us in a dream of peace,51
Here our love through silent seasons grow with infinite increase.”52
But I woke—as one who, coming from far lands beyond the wave,53
Finds not any face of weleome—all he loved are in the grave,54
Scarce the ancient house remaineth, bartered for a stranger’s gold ;—55
Foreign fires upon the hearth, whose very flame is deathly cold !56
Surely ’twas some evil angel woke me ere the dawn began57
Fiend, who could have heart to break the slumbers of a wretched man !58
Time enough grief’s drooping banners once more to behold unfurled,59
When the warm imperial sunlight widens through a weeping world !60
Breathing soon a finer sorrow, I, who had not wept for years,61
As I pondered on the vision felt my eyes grow dim with tears ;62
And I know that never, never, while Time wings his weary flight,63
From my heart of hearts shall perish the remembrance of that night.64
God be thanked that thy sweet phantom swept across my dreary way,65
Lighting up thine own dear footprints lest thy child should turn astray.66
Now for me, like loving sisters, Hope and Memory embrace,67
Each alike henceforward living in the sunshine of thy face.68
Let me pass in some sweet vision of the seasons long gone by !69
Some stray touch of dreamy fancy haunt me slumbering ere I die !70
Kindred hands of welcome lead me to the country far away,71
Where the spirit never needeth interchange of Night and Day !72