The Earthly Paradise, by William Morris

January.

FROM this dull rainy undersky and low,
This murky ending of a leaden day,
That never knew the sun, this half-thawed snow,
These tossing black boughs faint against the grey
Of gathering night, thou turnest, dear, away
Silent, but with thy scarce-seen kindly smile
Sent through the dusk my longing to beguile.

There, the lights gleam, and all is dark without!
And in the sudden change our eyes meet dazed —
O look, love, look again! the veil of doubt
Just for one flash, past counting, then was raised!
O eyes of heaven, as clear thy sweet soul blazed
On mine a moment! O come back again
Strange rest and dear amid the long dull pain!

Nay, nay, gone by! though there she sitteth still,
With wide grey eyes so frank and fathomless —
Be patient, heart, thy days they yet shall fill
With utter rest — Yea, now thy pain they bless,
And feed thy last hope of the world’s redress —
O unseen hurrying rack! O wailing wind!
What rest and where go ye this night to find?

THE year has changed its name since that last tale;
Yet nought the prisoned spring doth that avail.
Deep buried under snow the country lies;
Made dim by whirling flakes the rook still flies
South-west before the wind; noon is as still
As midnight on the southward-looking hill,
Whose slopes have heard so many words and loud
Since on the vine the woolly buds first showed.
The raven hanging o’er the farmstead gate,
While for another death his eye doth wait,
Hears but the muffled sound of crowded byre
And winds’ moan round the wall. Up in the spire
The watcher set high o’er the half-hid town
Hearkens the sound of chiming bells fall down
Below him; and so dull and dead they seem
That he might well-nigh be amidst a dream
Wherein folk hear and hear not.

                              Such a tide,
With all work gone from the hushed world outside,
Still finds our old folk living, and they sit
Watching the snow-flakes by the window flit
Midmost the time ’twixt noon and dusk; till now
One of the elders clears his knitted brow,
And says:

       “Well, hearken of a man who first
In every place seemed doomed to be accursed;
To tell about his ill hap lies on me;
Before the winter is quite o’er, maybe
Some other mouth of his good hap may tell;
But no third tale there is, of what befell
His fated life, when he had won his place;
And that perchance is not so ill a case
For him and us; for we may rise up, glad
At all the rest and triumph that he had
Before he died; while he, forgetting clean
The sorrow and the joy his eyes had seen,
Lies quiet and well famed — and serves to-day
To wear a space of winter-tide away.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/morris/william/m87ea/chapter31.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07