My Palace

WOUND round and round within his mystic veil
The poet hid a noble truth ;
The Soul’s Art-Palace then he named the tale
Of those far days in youth.
I sought that palace on its haughty height,
And came to know its starry joys,
Its sudden blackness, and the withering blight
Of all its mortal toys.
At length the soul took lesson from her past,
And found a vale wherein to dwell,
With no Arcadian visions overcast
Or history to tell.
My fellows tended wandering flocks and herds,
Or tilled and nursed their scanty corn ;
Little they heeded life that grew to words,
Yet gave no man their scorn.
Like them I wrought my task and took its gain,
That one might serve their homely need,
When skies were dark, and every cloud a pain,
And there were mouths to feed.
Thus labored day by day these unskilled hands,
Whose only master was a willing heart,
Till barren space smiled into garden-lands
Where roses shone apart.
Half faint with toil from morn to set of sun,
One night I watched the shadows creep
With stealthy footstep, when the day was done,
Toward my encastled steep.
The palace gleamed upon my dazzled sight, —
From long estrangement grown more fair :
I sank and dreamed my feet were mounting light
Over each golden stair.
Once more there came the voice of waters low
On cooling breezes perfume-fed :
It seemed I followed a grand leader, slow
Through marble galleries led.
Then sad I wakened in the vale, but found
The stately guide still drew me on :
Her name was Charity; her voice a sound
Of pure compassion.
She said, — “ Beside thee every day I stood
To keep false memories aloof ;
To-night I sorrowed for thy labor rude,
And put thee to the proof.
“ Ascend again to yon high palace-towers,
With brothers share its plenitude,
And gather up with all thy princely powers
Joys to infinitude.”
“ Ay me ! ” I cried, “ bid me not go afar,
While yet these little children call,
Lest life grow pallid as the morning star
In that cold shining hall!
“ All shall be theirs : my lot is here below
To minister the goods I hold,
While suffering ones shall watch the torrent flow
In waves of amber gold.
“ There childhood shall be laid on gleaming beds,
A saintly-eyed prophetic band,
And tinted oriels flame above their heads
To picture the new land.
“ And dusky men shall press the snowy lawn,
Shall feel those tears that ease all pain,
Then wake to greet the free earth’s noble dawn
And turn to rest again.
“ There tired soldiers wash their bleeding feet,
Who gave for us their ripening youth
To earn pure freedom, dared all danger meet,
Content to die for truth.
“ There, in the sleepless watch the organ’s tone
Shall bear them on its swelling wing
To dreamful space, while star-fires one by one
In vibrant chorus sing.”
Sudden there came a thought, — Thou hast no home,
No shaded haunt, or mansion wide,
No refuge after toil in which to roam,
Where silence may abide.
And then I saw a palace broad as earth,
Built beautiful of land and seas, —
Its eastern gate shone in the morning’s birth,
The west o’ertopped the trees.
Free as wild waves upon an autumn day,
A world of brothers through its space
Might wander up and down, and sunbeams play
Even on Sorrow’s face.
Here in the broad sunned silence of the noon
Peace waiteth to salute the worn,
And ever crowneth with her tender boon
Those who have nobly borne.
Like shafted light dropped in a sunset sea,
The radiant pillars of my home
Send from their glowing swift mortality
Great voices crying, “ Come ! ”