SOMETIMES it so befalls that ruthless chance
Relents, and in the swiftly gliding dance
Of life’s strange atoms wields a wand benign
And waves them marvelously to combine.
Most happy, happy fortune! Oftenest known
To those in whom the waiting soul has grown
A little weary, and whose deep desires
(As in black coal sleep unextinguished fires)
All joy’s rich possibilities ignore,
And, not despairing, yet expect no more.
Ah, then, when haply on the listless ear
Insidious music murmurs and draws near,
And knocks, and pleads, and will not be denied,
Until the spirit’s portals, opening wide,
Admit voluminous harmonies enwound
With long triumphant mysteries of sound,—
Or when, upon a sudden, in a breath,
Like a soul caught from out the lap of Death,
A secret silence, for a second’s space,
Lives, and reveals a heaven in a face, —
Then, then, like the remote dissolving snow
In spring-warmed Alpine vales, begin to flow
The softly trickling rivulets of delight,
Scarce felt at first, but with a gathering might
Hurrying, and the urgent torrents press and pour
In multitudinous gladness, more and more,
And join, and spread, till lo! — deep, calm, and strong,
Beatitude’s full flood is rolled along.
Then Time, with indrawn breath, stands still, and smiles;
And, like a vast soap-bubble that beguiles
With gilded nothingness destruction’s power,
Quivering and safe hangs the miraculous hour.
And oh! then gently, with familiar art,
Through the swooned brain and the enchanted heart,
Pale Passion weaves her way, while over all
Tears shed from inaccessible glories fall.