“Write the vision . . . that he may run that readeth it.” —Habakkuk 2:2
Along the edge of night,
and by the margin of the sea
that laps eternity,
o’er the pebble-studded shore,
a lithe and dusky maid —
nor here, nor there
she’s known — wanders up from where
every dream of mine has sprung.
Such a flower blown
I know not. Her like has not been seen
among us; nor the silken gleam
in her eye, beneath the stars.
The glimmer from the caps
of waves; and far,
the hush, then rustle from the bar,
lend truth to what should seem a lie.
Now she stops, and stoops
to choose a perfect, wave-round stone
lying more alone:
that from its fellows stands apart.
In her slender hand,
so near her heart,
she clasps the touchstone tight; her art
to make it more than it had been.
It seems an age and more
since e’er a stone was cast from in
the sea; since e’er did win
the shore a pearl unbosomed slow
from out the sea’s sweet heart.
No new stone
may climb upon the beach alone,
but needs a maid to call it forth.
The maiden starts,
and takes the bluestone from her breast —
so warm, now, with unguessed
power, that she, the willowy one,
seems frightened in herself.
She casts the stone;
the blue one sinks to rest alone.
’Tis one more star that’s left the night.
The stone, loosed from her grasp,
set sail, like such a breath of thought
as flies when asked or sought,
and pierced the sea’s thin line.
Buffeted by the currents,
it sank, to lie
’mid unthought stones, unloosed from time;
and lay, and touched, and warmed one green.
Anon, with crash and roar
the sea continues; not a groan
of pain for the maiden’s stone
is loosed to mark the tumbled weight
that’s added to the bulk
that rolls the fate
of worlds before the beach’s gate.
Then silently rises out a stone.
Somehow, brought up new,
a stone not seen on dry before
was called up from the floor.
The bluestone cast below the tide
gave of itself the fire
sprung from HER mind.
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