Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Sleep
By Edith Wyatt
 
WHERE do I go
Down roads of sleep,
Behind the blue-brimmed day?
No more I know her silvered sweep
Nor colors clear nor gray,        5
Nor women’s ways
Nor those of men,
Nor blame, nor praise.
Where am I, then?
 
Oh, fragrantly        10
The airs of earth arise
In waking hours of light,
While vagrantly
Sea symphonies
Of changing sound surprise;        15
Till for a space one goes
Beyond the salt and snows
And searching tides along the wide-stretched beach,
Beyond the last, faint reach
Of odor, sight and sound, far forth—far forth—        20
Where neither South nor North
Points down the roads unguessed,
Where East is not, nor West:
At night down roads of sleep,
Of dreamless sleep,        25
Past all the compassed ways the reason tells,
To unknown citadels.
 
Just as one turns, and while day’s dusk-breathed blue
And music, many-dappled, merge in flight,
Half in a dream, one finds a tale is true        30
That down one’s memory sings, still and light.
Just as the spirit turns,
Half-dreaming one discerns
Deeply the tale is true
That long ago one knew:        35
Of how a mermaid loved a mortal knight;
And how, unless she died, she still must change,
And leave his human ways, and go alone
At intervals, where seas unfathomed range
Through coral groves around the ocean’s throne,        40
Where cool-armed mermaids dive through crystal hours,
And braid their streaming hair with pearls, and sing
Among the green and clear-lit water flowers,
The sea-changed splendors of their ocean king.
 
Like hers our ways on earth,        45
Who, from our day of birth,
Would die, unless we slept—
Must die, unless for hours,
Beyond our senses’ powers,
Down soundless space we leapt.        50
 
Beyond the deepest roll
Of pain’s and rapture’s sweep,
Where goes the human soul
That vanishes in sleep?
 
Down dreamless paths unguessed, beyond the senses’ powers,        55
Beyond the breath of fragrance, sound and light—
As once through crystal unremembered hours
The mermaid dived who loved a mortal knight:
Far forth—far forth—
Beyond the South or North,        60
Past all the compassed ways the day has shown,
To live divine and deep at night down roads of sleep,
In citadels unknown.
 
 
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