Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
by George William Russell
WHAT miracle was it that made this grey Rathgar
Seem holy earth, a leaping-place from star to star?
I know I strode along grey streets disconsolate,
Seeing nowhere a glimmer of the Glittering Gate,
My vision baffled amid many dreams, for still
The airy walls rose up in fabulous hill on hill.
The stars were fortresses upon the dizzy slope
And one and all were unassailable by hope.
And then I turned and looked beyond high Terenure
Where the last jewel breath of twilight floated pure,
As if god Angus there, with his enchanted lyre,
Sat swaying his bright body and hair of misty fire,
And smote the slumber-string within the heavenly house
That eve might lay upon the earth her tender brows,
Her moth-dim tresses, and lip’s invisible bloom,
And eye’s light shadowed under eyelids of the gloom,
Till all that dark divine pure being, breast to breast,
Lay cool upon the sleepy isle from east to west.
Then I took thought remembering many a famous tale
Told of those heavenly adventurers the Gael,
Ere to a far-brought alien worship they inclined,
And that its sorceries had left them shorn and blind,
Crownless and sceptreless, while yet their magic might
Could bow the lordly pillars of the day and night,
And topple in one golden wreckage stars and sun,
And mix their precious fires till heaven and earth were one.
Then god and hero mingled, and the veil was rent
That hid the fairy turrets in the firmament,
The lofty god-uplifted cities that flash on high
Dense with the silver-radiant deities of sky,
And the gay populace that under ocean bide
Unknowing of the flowing of the ponderous tide,
And worlds where Time is full, where all with one accord
Turn the flushed beauty of their faces to the Lord,
Where the last ecstasy lights up each hill and glade
And love is not remembered between man and maid,
For lips laugh there at beauty the heart imagineth,
And feet dance there at the holy Bridal of Love and Death.
And as, with heart upborne and speedier footsteps, I
Strode on my way, that twilight-burnished sky
Seemed to heave up as from a mystic fountain thrown.
And world on world those magic voyagers had known
Glowed in the vast with burning hill and glittering stream,
And all their shining folk, till earth was as a dream,
A memory fleeting moth-like in the light to be
Scorched by the fiery Dreamer of Eternity.
And the bright host swept by me like a blazing wind
O’er the dark churches where the blind mislead the blind.