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THE PILGRIM'S DREAM

OR, THE STAR AND THE GLOW-WORM

          A PILGRIM, when the summer day
          Had closed upon his weary way,
          A lodging begged beneath a castle's roof;
          But him the haughty Warder spurned;
          And from the gate the Pilgrim turned,
          To seek such covert as the field
          Or heath-besprinkled copse might yield,
          Or lofty wood, shower-proof.

          He paced along; and, pensively,
          Halting beneath a shady tree,                               10
          Whose moss-grown root might serve for couch or seat,
          Fixed on a Star his upward eye;
          Then, from the tenant of the sky
          He turned, and watched with kindred look,
          A Glow-worm, in a dusky nook,
          Apparent at his feet.

          The murmur of a neighbouring stream
          Induced a soft and slumbrous dream,
          A pregnant dream, within whose shadowy bounds
          He recognised the earth-born Star,                          20
          And 'That' which glittered from afar;
          And (strange to witness!) from the frame
          Of the ethereal Orb, there came
          Intelligible sounds.

          Much did it taunt the humble Light
          That now, when day was fled, and night
          Hushed the dark earth, fast closing weary eyes,
          A very reptile could presume
          To show her taper in the gloom,
          As if in rivalship with One                                 30
          Who sate a ruler on his throne
          Erected in the skies.

          "Exalted Star!" the Worm replied,
          "Abate this unbecoming pride,
          Or with a less uneasy lustre shine;
          Thou shrink'st as momently thy rays
          Are mastered by the breathing haze;
          While neither mist, nor thickest cloud
          That shapes in heaven its murky shroud,
          Hath power to injure mine.                                  40

          But not for this do I aspire
          To match the spark of local fire,
          That at my will burns on the dewy lawn,
          With thy acknowledged glories;--No!
          Yet, thus upbraided, I may show
          What favours do attend me here,
          Till, like thyself, I disappear
          Before the purple dawn."

          When this in modest guise was said,
          Across the welkin seemed to spread                          50
          A boding sound--for aught but sleep unfit!
          Hills quaked, the rivers backward ran;
          That Star, so proud of late, looked wan;
          And reeled with visionary stir
          In the blue depth, like Lucifer
          Cast headlong to the pit!

          Fire raged: and, when the spangled floor
          Of ancient ether was no more,
          New heavens succeeded, by the dream brought forth:
          And all the happy Souls that rode                           60
          Transfigured through that fresh abode,
          Had heretofore, in humble trust,
          Shone meekly 'mid their native dust,
          The Glow-worms of the earth!

          This knowledge, from an Angel's voice
          Proceeding, made the heart rejoice
          Of Him who slept upon the open lea:
          Waking at morn he murmured not;
          And, till life's journey closed, the spot
          Was to the Pilgrim's soul endeared,                         70
          Where by that dream he had been cheered
          Beneath the shady tree.
                                                              1818.


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