What is it you ask me, darling?
All my stories, child, you know;
I have no strange dreams to tell you,
Pictures I have none to show.
Tell you glorious scenes of travel?
Nay, my child, that cannot be,
I have seen no foreign countries,
Marvels none on land or sea.
Yet strange sights in truth I witness,
And I gaze until I tire,
Wondrous pictures, changing ever,
As I look into the fire.
There, last night, I saw a cavern,
Black as pitch; within it lay
Coiled in many folds a dragon,
Glaring as if turned at bay.
And a knight in dismal armour
On a winged eagle came,
To do battle with this dragon;
And his crest was all of flame.
As I gazed the dragon faded,
And, instead, sate Pluto crowned,
By a lake of burning fire;
Spirits dark were crouching round.
That was gone, and lo! before me,
A cathedral vast and grim;
I could almost hear the organ
Peal alone the arches dim.
As I watched the wreathed pillars,
Groves of stately palms arose,
And a group of swarthy Indians
Stealing on some sleeping foes.
Stay; a cataract glancing brightly,
Dashed and sparkled; and beside
Lay a broken marble monster,
Mouth and eyes were staring wide.
Then I saw a maiden wreathing
Starry flowers in garlands sweet;
Did she see the fiery serpent
That was wrapped about her feet?
That fell crashing all and vanished;
And I saw two armies close–
I could almost hear the clarions,
And the shouting of the foes.
They were gone; and lo! bright angels,
On a barren mountain wild,
Raised appealing arms to Heaven,
Bearing up a little child.
And I gazed, and gazed, and slowly
Gathered in my eyes sad tears,
And the fiery pictures bore me
Back through distant dreams of years.
Once again I tasted sorrow,
With past joy was once more gay,
Till the shade had gathered round me–
And the fire had died away.
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