MAKERS of fables and of verses tell,
And many times have told,
Of an imagined country, free from pain,
From weariness, and death, and cold.
It rises in bright meadows from the swell
Of the wind-darkened sea.
No snow falls there, nor hail,
Nor God’s contemptuous phlegm, the autumn rain.
The age-old tree
Is riven by no shrill, disheartening storm,
But always in Hesperian light,
Such as on shores beyond the wind and foam
Brightens across dark waves before the night,
The fabled country stands.
It is the mother of all perfect lands
Shaped by the mind, or sought in ventures far.
It is the image of the wished-for star
Trembling upon the mortal stream.
And whoso has regarded it in dream,
Has seen its clear fields at the end of day,
Must feel his spirit warm with inward tears,
Must bear through all his years
A longing inexpressible, unsought,
But dear as life, with very life inwrought. Light is the essence of that fabled land,
Light that is ever present through the world,
Changing as winds and waters change,
Blowing through sea-green grasses over bright sand,
And in green caves of breakers curled.
Light, the most vulgar of familiar things,
Light the impalpable and strange,
The swift of foot that through the bright leagues races
And visits clouds and in the wild rose sings.
Often from ranging in the world’s broad spaces
The swift feet of the light descend
Upon a shore by dark waves breasted.
Then barns and spires and the rich shapes of trees
Are changed and held immortal and arrested,
And then across the intervening seas
The meadows of the fabled land appear.
He that beholds them thinks of lover and friend,
Of all that he holds dear.
They throb within his pulse, till they and he
And all the world are lost, and what is real
Is only longing without depth or end,
A strong, sad, burning wish that life might be
Secure, and worthy of man’s breath,
A light and recompense for death,
Clear as the fields imperishably clear
And shining in the barriers of the sea.