The Final Quest

AT last I feel my freedom. So a leaf,
Under some swift, keen prompting of the spring,
Aches with great light and air, and, stretching forth
Into the circled wonder overhead,
Unfolds to breath and being. So the stream,
Wounded by boulders, fretted into foam,
But flows with mightier passion on and on
(O mystic prescience born of watery ways!)
Into the wide, sweet hope awaiting him
Of ample banks and murmurous plenitudes.
So I, by midnight mothered, lift my voice
And cry to mine old enemies encamped,
Fear, dread of fear and dark bewilderment:
“ Ye cannot harm me. O unreal shapes,
Wherewith Life garnishes her golden house
To urge us forth upon our further quest,
I see you now for what you truly are, —
Usurping slaves, pale mimicries of power,
Air held in armor to amaze a child.
In your grim company I lie at ease
And look alone upon the vistaed light,
The grave, pure track of worlds beyond the world.”
Oh, the still wells of life, the conquering winds
In this wide garden once my wilderness !
Who that hath felt these brooding silences
Could sigh for June, her rose and nightingale, —
Or, when a dry leaf trembles from the branch,
Fear, in that flitting, aught but other Junes ?
Doth this immortal need mortality, —
She, the fair soul, the spark of all that is,
She who can ride upon the changing flood
Of dim desires, or, if she faint,
Creep into caves of her own fashioning ?
It is her garment now, the while she wields
This battered blade of earthly circumstance.
A breath — and she walks naked, like the dawn,
Led, through some western radiance of surmise,
By arc as true as orbèd planets hold,
Home to that house where birth and death are one,
And dreams keep tryst with hearts that died of them.
Alice Brown.