Pictures in the Fire.

What is it you ask me, darling ?1
All my stories, child, you know ;2
I have no strange dreams to tell you,3
Pictures I have none to show.4
Tell you glorious scenes of travel ?5
Nay, my child, that cannot be,6
I have seen no foreign countries,7
Marvels none on land or sea.8
Yet strange sights in truth I witness,9
And I gaze until I tire ;10
Wondrous pictures, changing ever,11
As I look into the fire.12
There, last night, I saw a cavern,13
Black as pitch ; within it lay14
Coiled in many folds a dragon,15
Glaring as if turn’d at bay.16
And a knight in dismal armour17
On a wingèd eagle came,18
To do battle with this dragon ;19
His towering crest was all of flame.20
As I gazed the dragon faded,21
And, instead, sate Pluto crowned,22
By a lake of burning fir ;23
Spirits dark were crouching round.24
That was gone, and lo !  before me,25
A cathedral vast and grim ;26
I could almost hear the organ27
Roll along the arches dim.28
As I watched the wreathéd pillars,29
A thick grove of palms arose,30
And a group of swarthy Indians31
Stealing on some sleeping foes.32
Stay ; a cataract glancing brightly,33
Dashed and sparkled ; and beside34
Lay a broken marble monster,35
Mouth and eyes were staring wide.36
Then I saw a maiden wreathing37
Starry flowers in garlands sweet ;38
Did she see the fiery serpent39
That was wrapped about her feet ?40
That fell crashing all and vanished ;41
And I saw two armies close42
I could almost hear the clarions43
And the shouting of the foes.44
They were gone ; and lo ! bright angels45
On a barren mountain wild,46
Raised appealing arms to Heaven,47
Bearing up a little child.48
And I gazed, and gazed, and slowly49
Gathered in my eyes sad tears,50
And the fiery pictures bore me51
Back through distant dreams of years.52
Once again I tasted sorrow,53
With past joy was once more gay,54
Till the shade had gathered round me55
And the fire had died away.56