Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 368. Slaibh Mor
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
368. Slaibh Mor
By Darrell Figgis
  
I STOOD among the ancient hills,
While all the dusk eve’s blue array
Swept round with softly rustling wings
To still the glamour of the day.
The murmur of persistent rills,        5
A lone thrush with his communings
Of music, folded in some trees,
A piping robin ere he flew,
And the soft touch of a calm breeze
Sighing across the heavenly view,       10
Were the sole voices whispering round
The slope hills with reflective sound,
So still the whole earth was:
So very still it was.
The solemn conclave of the hills,       15
In an erect fraternity,
Expectant of the hour to be,
Were trembling in the calm that fills
The house of Being with its peace.
A measured rhythm flowed abroad       20
From old Earth of the heart so strong,
That was itself a manner of song,
Bidding the day’s tame tumults cease
Before the coming of her lord.
The throstle, as he communed low,       25
Enchanted seemed, and tranced, and spelled,
To catch the measure of that flow
That from the mighty heart upwelled,
That his own song thereby should be
Lost in the inner immensity.       30
The trickling music of the rills
Along the bosom of the hills
Was to that larger rhythm bent,
And in that larger silence played.
The very winds that came and went       35
Were in their courses stayed,
Hushed in a mute expectancy.
The silent Earth was bent in prayer.
And I, as I stood there,
Scarce witting what my body knew,       40
Was hushed to adoration too.
 
Like a charmed cadence throbbing low
Along her scarred, mute visage so,
Flowed the Earth’s spirit thro’ the air
Emerging from its ancient lair,—       45
Flowed round the dusk and glooming hills
That stood in solemn peacefulness,
Flowed thro’ the shimmer of air that fills
The valleys with a shadowy tress,
Flowed up where stars began to peep,       50
Flowed where the hushed winds lay asleep,
And sank again while peace profound
Wrapped all the ancient hills around.
Not a breath stirred;
No voice or song was heard.       55
It was a silence vaster than the dead;
It was a silence where in all its power
Being raised up its mighty head an hour.
And I, tho’ I scarce knew what chanced,
Caught in the measured rhythm, and tranced,       60
Was yet raised to a terrible dread
Of the great hush that wrapped the hills:
That spell upon the standing hills.
I could have fled, but that the awe
Of an unfurling and strange might       65
Had me transfigured in its law.
And yet the fear that stirred in me
Was mingled with a wild delight
That thrilled with very ecstasy
Thro’ every nerve and vein and mesh       70
Building my quivering house of flesh.
 
Then a strange shudder shook the hills.
Some movement swayed them in eclipse,
As tho’ a dread apocalypse
Were waiting till they were unfurled       75
With all the travail of the world.
They were transformed, and shadowy-high
They stood there, and yet floated by;
While from some inner place of flame
A boom of distant music came       80
Suddenly thro’ the air,
And huge and silent chords of sound
Soared o’er the quivering hills around,
As I hung trembling there.
My house of flesh could scarce contain       85
The rolling chords that swept abroad
And undissolved remain,
My joy stirred in me with such pain.
Loosed on the silence that had been,
Obeying its symphonic lord,       90
The music rolled thro’ time and space,
Booming in changing chord on chord
Amidst a silence that seemed still
Upon the old Earth’s brooding face.
It rolled round each reverberate hill;       95
It crashed its high symphonic will
And floated all the vales between,
In clouds of colour mounting high,
In waves of music sweeping by,
Booming above the ancient peace      100
Betwixt the ancient silences.
 
What chanced I do not know.
How is it I should know?
Like rolling clouds before the day
The booming music rolled away;      105
And, like a storm of splendour past,
The silence seemed yet to outlast
The music it had ushered so.—
Then slowly the wise thrush arose
And mused away the evening’s close.      110

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