by George Russell
How often have I said,
“We may not grieve for the immortal dead.”
And now, poor blenchèd heart,
Thy ruddy hues all tremulous depart.
Why be with fate at strife
Because one passes on from death to life,
Who may no more delay
Rapt from our strange and pitiful dream away
By one with ancient claim
Who robes her with the spirit like a flame.
Not lost this high belief—
Oh, passionate heart, what is thy cause for grief?
Is this thy sorrow now,
She in eternal beauty may not bow
Thy troubles to efface
As in old time a head with gentle grace
All tenderly laid by thine
Taught thee the nearness of the love divine.
Her joys no more for thee
Than the impartial laughter of the sea,
Her beauty no more fair
For thee alone, but starry, everywhere.
Her pity dropped for you
No more than heaven above with healing dew
Favours one home of men—
Ah! grieve not; she becomes herself again,
And passed beyond thy sight
She roams along the thought-swept fields of light,
Moving in dreams until
She finds again the root of ancient will,
The old heroic love
That emptied once the heavenly courts above.
The angels heard from earth
A mournful cry which shattered all their mirth,
Raised by a senseless rout
Warring in chaos with discordant shout,
And that the pain might cease
They grew rebellious in the Master’s peace;
And falling downward then
The angelic lights were crucified in men;
Leaving so radiant spheres
For earth’s dim twilight ever wet with tears
That through those shadows dim
Might breathe the lovely music brought from Him.
And now my grief I see 45
Was but that ancient shadow part of me,
Not yet attuned to good,
Still blind and senseless in its warring mood,
I turn from it and climb
To the heroic spirit of the prime,
The light that well foreknew
All the dark ways that it must journey through.
Yet seeing still a gain,
A distant glory o’er the hills of pain,
Through all that chaos wild
A breath as gentle as a little child,
Through earth transformed, divine,
The Christ-soul of the universe to shine.