The Sunshine of the Gods


WHO shall sunder the fetters,
Who scale the invisible ramparts
Whereon our nimblest forces
Hurl their vigor in vain ?
Where, like the baffling crystal
To a wildered bird of the heavens,
Something holds and imprisons
The eager, the stirring brain ?


Alas, from the fresh emotion,
From thought that is born of feeling,
From form, self-shaped, and slowly
Its own completeness evolving,
To the rhythmic speech, how long!
What hand shall master the tumult
Where one on the other tramples,
And none escapes a wrong ?
Where the crowding germs of a thousand
Fancies encumber the portal,
Till one plucks a voice from the murmurs
And lifts himself into Song!


As a man that walks in the mist,
As one that gropes for the morning
Through lengthening chambers of twilight,
The souls of the poems wander
Restless, and dumb, and lost,
Till the Word, like a beam of morning,
Shivers the pregnant silence,
And the light of speech descends
Like a tongue of the Pentecost!


Ah, moment not to be purchased,
Not to be won by prayers,
Not by toil to be conquered,
But given, lest one despair,
By the gods in wayward kindness,
Stay — thou art all too fair!
Hour of the dancing measures,
Sylph of the dew and rainbow,
Let us clutch thy shining hair !


For the mist is blown from the mind,
For the impotent yearning is over,
And the wings of the thoughts have power:
In the warmth and the glow creative
Existence mellows and ripens,
And a crowd of swift surprises
Sweetens the fortunate hour;
Till a shudder of rapture loosens
The tears that hang on the eyelids
Like a breeze-suspended shower,
With a sense of heavenly freshness
Blown from beyond the sunshine,
And the blood, like the sap of the roses,
Breaks into bud and flower.


'T is the Sunshine of the Gods,
The sudden light that quickens,
Unites the nimble forces,
And yokes the shy expression
To the thoughts that waited long,—
Waiting and wooing vainly:
But now they meet like lovers
In the time of willing increase,
Each warming each, and giving
The kiss that maketh strong:
And the mind feels fairest May-time
In the marriage of its passions,
For Thought is one with Speech, In the Sunshine of the Gods,
And Speech is one with Song!


Then a rhythmic pulse makes order
In the troops of wandering fancies:
Held in soft subordination,
Lo ! they follow, lead, or fly.
The fields of their feet are endless,
And the heights and the deeps are open
To the glance of the equal sky:
And the Masters sit no longer
In inaccessible distance,
But give to the haughtiest question,
Smiling, a sweet reply.
The Masters, dwelling forever ^
In the Sunshine of the Gods,
Unbend their brows and greet us,
And we catch the golden secret
Of the strains that shall not die.


Dost mourn, because the moment
Is a gift beyond thy will,—
A gift thy dreams had promised,
Yet they gave to Chance its keeping
And fettered thy free achievement
With the hopes they not fulfil?
Dost sigh o’er the fleeting rapture,
The bliss of reconcilement
Of powers that work apart,
Yet lean on each other still ?


Be glad, for this is the token,
The sign and the seal of the Poet:
Were it held by will or endeavor,
There were naught so precious in Song.
Wait: for the shadows unlifted
To a million that crave the sunshine,
Shall be lifted for thee erelong.
Light from the loftier regions
Here unattainable ever,—
Bath of brightness and beauty,—
Let it make thee glad and strong !
Not to clamor or fury,
Not to lament or yearning,
But to faith and patience cometh —
To faith and serene obedience —
The Sunshine of the Gods,
The hour of perfect Song!