Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Isles
 
Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts (1860–1943)
 
 
FAITHFUL reports of them have reached me oft!
  Many their embassage to mortal court,
  By golden pomp, and breathless-heard consort
    Of music soft,—
By fragrances accredited, and dreams.        5
  Many their speeding heralds, whose light feet
Make pause at wayside brooks, and fords of streams,
  Leaving transfigured by an effluence fleet
    Those wayfarers they meet.
 
No wind from out the solemn wells of night        10
  But hath its burden of strange messages,
  Tormenting for interpreter; nor less
    The wizard light
That steals from noon-stilled waters, woven in shade,
  Beckons somewhither, with cool fingers slim.        15
No dawn but hath some subtle word conveyed
  In rose ineffable at sunrise rim,
    Or charactery dim.
 
One moment throbs the hearing, yearns the sight.
  But though not far, yet strangely hid, the way,        20
  And our sense slow; nor long for us delay
    The guides their flight!
The breath goes by; the word, the light, elude;
  And we stay wondering. But there comes an hour
Of fitness perfect and unfettered mood,        25
  When splits her husk the finer sense with power,
    And—yon their palm-trees tower!
 
Here Homer came, and Milton came, though blind.
  Omar’s deep doubts still found them nigh and nigher,
  And learned them fashioned to the heart’s desire.        30
    The supreme mind
Of Shakespeare took their sovereignty, and smiled.
  Those passionate Israelitish lips that poured
The Song of Songs attained them; and the wild
  Child-heart of Shelley, here from strife restored,        35
    Remembers not life’s sword.
 

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