DEDICATED TO MY FRIEND, JOHN F. HEATH.
by James Russell Lowell
I feel the bandages unroll
That bound my inward seeing;
Freed are the bright wings of my soul.
Types of my god-like being;
High thoughts are swelling in my heart
And rushing through my brain;
May I never more lose part
In my soul's realm again!
All things fair, where'er they be,
In earth or air, in sky or sea,
I have loved them all, and taken
All within my throbbing breast;
No more my spirit can be shaken
From its calm and kingly rest!
Love hath shed its light around me,
Love hath pierced the shades that bound me;
Mine eyes are opened, I can see
The universe's mystery,
The mighty heart and core
Of After and Before
I see, and I am weak no more!
Upward! upward evermore,
To Heaven's open gate I soar!
Little thoughts are far behind me,
Which, when custom weaves together,
All the nobler man can tether--
Cobwebs now no more can bind me!
Now fold thy wings a little while,
My tranced soul, and lie
At rest on this Calypso-isle
That floats in mellow sky,
A thousand isles with gentle motion
Rock upon the sunset ocean;
A thousand isles of thousand hues,
How bright! how beautiful! how rare!
Into my spirit they infuse
A purer, a diviner air;
The earth is growing dimmer,
And now the last faint glimmer
Hath faded from the hill;
But in my higher atmosphere
The sun-light streameth red and clear,
Fringing the islets still;--
Love lifts us to the sun-light,
Though the whole world would be dark;
Love, wide Love, is the one light,
All else is but a fading spark;
Love is the nectar which doth fill
Our soul's cup even to overflowing,
And, warming heart, and thought, and will,
Doth lie within us mildly glowing,
From its own centre raying out
Beauty and Truth on all without.
Each on his golden throne,
Full royally, alone,
I see the stars above me,
With sceptre and with diadem;
Mildly they look down and love me,
For I have ever yet loved them,
I see their ever-sleepless eyes
Watching the growth of destinies;
The eyes of Fate,
They wink not, nor do roll,
But search the depths of soul--
And in those mighty depths they see
The germs of all Futurity,
Waiting but the fitting time
To burst and ripen into prime,
As in the womb of mother Earth
The seeds of plants and forests lie
Age upon age and never die--
So in the souls of all men wait,
Undyingly the seeds of Fate;
Chance breaks the clod and forth they spring,
Filling blind men with wondering.
Eternal stars! with holy awe,
As if a present God I saw,
I look into those mighty eyes
And see great destinies arise,
As in those of mortal men
Feelings glow and fade again!
All things below, all things above,
Are open to the eyes of Love.
Of Knowledge Love is master-key,
Knowledge of Beauty; passing dear
Is each to each, and mutually
Each one doth make the other clear;
Beauty is Love, and what we love
Straightway is beautiful,
So is the circle round and full,
And so dear Love doth live and move
And have his being,
Finding his proper food
By sure inseeing,
In all things pure and good,
Which he at will doth cull,
Like a joyous butterfly
Hiving in the sunny bowers
Of the soul's fairest flowers,
Or, between the earth and sky,
Wandering at liberty
For happy, happy hours!
The thoughts of Love are Poesy,
As this fair earth and all we see
Are the thoughts of Deity--
And Love is ours by our birthright!
He hath cleared mine inward sight;
Glorious shapes with glorious eyes
Round about my spirit glance,
Shedding a mild and golden light
On the shadowy face of Night;
To unearthly melodies,
Hand in hand, they weave their dance,
While a deep, ambrosial lustre
From their rounded limbs doth shine,
Through many a rich and golden cluster
Of streaming hair divine.
In our gross and earthly hours
We cannot see the Love-given powers
Which ever round the soul await
To do its sovereign will,
When, in its moments calm and still,
It re-assumes its royal state,
Nor longer sits with eyes downcast,
A beggar, dreaming of the past,
At its own palace-gate.
I too am a Maker and a Poet;
Through my whole soul I feel it and know it;
My veins are fired with ecstasy!
Did ne'er give birth
To one who shall be matched with me;
The lustre of my coronal
Shall cast a dimness over all.--
Alas! alas! what have I spoken?
My strong, my eagle wings are broken,
And back again to earth I fall!