Notte Veneziane: Sogno Veneziano

I SLEPT in Venice. The bright windy day
Merged into night, along the Zattere,
Over the long Giudecca luminous.
The night was bright and windy; and’t was thus
I fell asleep and let the moonlight fall
Across my face, and scatter on the wall;
And thus I came into the moonlight spell.
I dreamed; and in my dream a darkness fell
Upon the land and water, and the night
Poured like a flood across the infinite. Then, as I dreamed, the billowy darkness broke
At some soft, slow, insinuating stroke,
And lo! a little core of light began
To waken softly, and its rays outran,
And, by insensible degrees, increased
Into the semblance of a phantom East;
And the whole night gathered and overflowed,
Flood upon flood, until a shining road
Of level water lay out endlessly
Into the outer reaches of the sea.
I floated forth lightly upon it, and
Suddenly, round me, there was no more land,
But rioting from the depths of the sea’s caves,
The shining floor broke into hollow waves,
And rocked the house about me, and drove me on
Into the night of waters. Land was gone,
The whole live Earth shrank like a startled snail
Into the shell of heaped-up waters, pale
As moonlight in the moonlight, and now curled
Under and over and round about the world.
And the waves drew me, and the treacherous night
Into the circle of its infinite
Would fain have sucked me, and I saw the moon
Laughing an evil laugh, and the stars swoon
Into an ecstasy of merriment.
Then, knowing I was wholly lost, I sent
A great cry shouting up into the sky,
And leapt upright, and with an echoing cry
Over my head I heard the waters hiss;
And I fell slowly down the sheer abyss,
Age after endless age of such intense
And unimaginably sharp suspense,
That soul and body parted at the stroke;
And with the utter anguish I awoke,
And saw the night grow softly into day
Outside my windows on the Zattere.