Sweetest of all childlike dreams
     In the simple Indian lore
Still to me the legend seems
     Of the Elves who flit before.

Flitting, passing, seen and gone,
     Never reached nor found at rest,
Baffling search, but beckoning on
     To the Sunset of the Blest.

From the clefts of mountain rocks,
     Through the dark of lowland firs,
Flash the eyes and flow the locks
     Of the mystic Vanishers!

And the fisher in his skiff
     And the hunter on the moss,
Hear their call from cape and cliff,
     See their hands the birch-leaves toss.

Wistful, longing, through the green
     Twilight of the clustered pines,
In their faces rarely seen
     Beauty more than mortal shines.

Fringed with gold their mantles flow
     On the slopes of westering knolls;
In the wind they whisper low
     Of the Sunset Land of Souls.

Doubt who may, O friend of mine!
     Thou and I have seen them too;
On before with beck and sign
     Still they glide, and we pursue.

More than clouds of purple trail
     In the gold of setting day;
More than gleams of wing or sail
     Beckon from the sea-mist gray.

Glimpses of immortal youth,
     Gleams and glories seen and lost,
Far-heard voices sweet with truth
     As the tongues of Pentecost,––

Beauty that eludes our grasp,
     Sweetness that transcends our taste,
Loving hands we may not clasp,
     Shining feet that mock our haste,––

Gentle eyes we closed below,
     Tender voices heard once more,
Smile and call us, as they go
     On and onward, still before.

Guided thus, O friend of mine!
     Let us walk our little way,
knowing by each beckoning sign
     That we are not quite astray.

Chase we still with baffled feet
     Smiling eye and waving hand,
Sought and seeker soon shall meet,
     Lost and found, in Sunset Land!

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