The Outer Dream by George MacDonald

And as they lay and looked into the room,
It wavered, changed, dissolved beneath the sun,
Which mingled both the mornings in their eyes,
Till the true conquered, and the unreal passed.
No walls, but woods bathed in a level sun;
No ceiling, but the vestal sky of morn;
No bed, but flowers floating ‘mid floating leaves
On water which grew audible as they stirred
And lifted up their heads. And a low wind
That flowed from out the west, washed from their eye
The last films of the dream. And they sat up,
Silent for one long cool delicious breath,
Gazing upon each other lost and found,
With a dumb ecstasy, new, undefined.
Followed a long embrace, and then the oars
Broke up their prison-bands.

And through the woods
They slowly went, beneath a firmament
Of boughs, and clouded leaves, filmy and pale
In the sunshine, but shadowy on the grass.
And roving odours met them on their way,
Sun-quickened odours, which the fog had slain.
And their green sky had many a blossom-moon,
And constellations thick with starry flowers.
And deep and still were all the woods, except
For the Memnonian, glory-stricken birds;
And golden beetles ‘mid the shadowy roots,
Green goblins of the grass, and mining mice;
And on the leaves the fairy butterflies,
Or doubting in the air, scarlet and blue.
The divine depth of summer clasped the Earth.

But ‘twixt their hearts and summer’s perfectness
Came a dividing thought that seemed to say:
Ye wear strange looks.” Did summer speak, or they?
They said within: “We know that ye are fair,
Bright flowers; but ye shine far away, as in
A land of other thoughts. Alas! alas!

See also  To An Early Violet

“Where shall we find the snowdrop-bell half-blown?
What shall we do? we feel the throbbing spring
Bursting in new and unexpressive thoughts;
Our hearts are swelling like a tied-up bud,
And summer crushes them with too much light.
Action is bubbling up within our souls;
The woods oppress us more than stony streets;
That was the life indeed; this is the dream;
Summer is too complete for growing hearts;
They need a broken season, and a land
With shadows pointing ever far away;
Where incompleteness rouses longing thoughts
With spires abrupt, and broken spheres, and circles
Cut that they may be widened evermore:
Through shattered cloudy roof, looks in the sky,
A discord from a loftier harmony;
And tempests waken peace within our thoughts,
Driving them inward to the inmost rest.
Come, my beloved, we will haste and go
To those pale faces of our fellow men;
Our loving hearts, burning with summer-fire,
Will cast a glow upon their pallidness;
Our hands will help them, far as servants may;
Hands are apostles still to saviour-hearts.
So we may share their blessedness with them;
So may the snowdrop time be likewise ours;
And Earth smile tearfully the spirit smile
Wherewith she smiled upon our holiday,
As a sweet child may laugh with weeping eyes.
If ever we return, these glorious flowers
May all be snowdrops of a higher spring.”
Their eyes one moment met, and then they knew
That they did mean the same thing in their hearts.
So with no farther words they turned and went
Back to the boat, and so across the mere.

See also  Arethusa by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I wake from out my dream, and know my room,
My darling books, the cherub forms above;
I know ’tis springtime in the world without;
I feel it springtime in my world within;
I know that bending o’er an early flower,
Crocus, or primrose, or anemone,
The heart that striveth for a higher life,
And hath not yet been conquered, findeth there
A beauty deep, unshared by any rose,
A human loveliness about the flower;
That a heath-bell upon a lonely waste
Hath more than scarlet splendour on thick leaves;
That a blue opening ‘midst rain-bosomed clouds
Is more than Paphian sun-set harmonies;
That higher beauty dwells on earth, because
Man seeks a higher home than Paradise;
And, having lost, is roused thereby to fill
A deeper need than could be filled by all
The lost ten times restored; and so he loves
The snowdrop more than the magnolia;
Spring-hope is more to him than summer-joy;
Dark towns than Eden-groves with rivers four.

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