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The Journey


Hark, the rain is on my roof!
Every sound drops through the dark
On my soul with dull reproof,
Like a half-extinguished spark.
I! alas, how am I here,
In the midnight and alone?
Caught within a net of fear!
All my dreams of beauty gone!

I will rise: I must go forth.
Better face the hideous night,
Better dare the unseen north,
Than be still without the light!
Black wind rushing round my brow,
Sown with stinging points of rain!
Place or time I know not now--
I am here, and so is pain!

I will leave the sleeping street,
Hie me forth on darker roads.
Ah! I cannot stay my feet,
Onward, onward, something goads.
I will take the mountain path,
Beard the storm within its den,
Know the worst of this dim wrath,
Vexing thus the souls of men.

Chasm 'neath chasm! rock piled on rock:
Roots, and crumbling earth, and stones!
Hark, the torrent's thundering shock!
Hark, the swaying pine tree's groans!
Ah, I faint, I fall, I die!
Sink to nothingness away!--
Lo, a streak upon the sky!
Lo, the opening eye of day!


II.

Mountain heights that lift their snows
O'er a valley green and low;
And a winding path, that goes
Guided by the river's flow;
And a music rising ever,
As of peace and low content,
From the pebble-paven river
As an odour upward sent.

And a sighing of the storm
Far away amid the hills,
Like the humming of a swarm
That the summer forest fills;
And a frequent fall of rain
From a cloud with ragged weft;
And a burst of wind amain
From the mountain's sudden cleft.

Then a night that hath a moon,
Staining all the cloudy white;
Sinking with a soundless tune
Deep into the spirit's night.
Then a morning clear and soft,
Amber on the purple hills;
Warm high day of summer, oft
Cooled by wandering windy rills.

Joy to travel thus along,
With the universe around!
I the centre of the throng;
Every sight and every sound
Speeding with its burden laden,
Speeding homewards to my soul!
Mine the eye the stars are made in!
I the heart of all this whole!


III.

Hills retreat on either hand,
Sinking down into the plain;
Slowly through the level land
Glides the river to the main.
What is that before me, white,
Gleaming through the dusky air?
Dimmer in the gathering night;
Still beheld, I know not where?

Is it but a chalky ridge,
Bared by many a trodden mark?
Or a river-spanning bridge,
Miles away into the dark?
Or the foremost leaping waves
Of the everlasting sea,
Where the Undivided laves
Time with its eternity?

No, tis but an eye-made sight,
In my brain a fancied gleam;
Or a thousand things as white,
Set in darkness, well might seem.
There it wavers, shines, is gone;
What it is I cannot tell;
When the morning star hath shone,
I shall see and know it well.

Onward, onward through the night!
Matters it I cannot see?
I am moving in a might,
Dwelling in the dark and me.
Up or down, or here or there,
I can never be alone;
My own being tells me where
God is as the Father known.


IV.

Joy! O joy! the Eastern sea
Answers to the Eastern sky;
Wide and featured gloriously
With swift billows bursting high.
Nearer, nearer, oh! the sheen
On a thousand waves at once!
Oh! the changing crowding green!
Oh my beating heart's response!

Down rejoicing to the strand,
Where the sea-waves shore-ward lean,
Curve their graceful heads, and stand
Gleaming with ethereal green,
Then in foam fall heavily--
This is what I saw at night!
Lo, a boat! I'll forth on thee,
Dancing-floor for my delight.

From the bay, wind-winged, we glance;
Sea-winds seize me by the hair!
What a terrible expanse!
How the ocean tumbles there!
I am helpless here afloat,
For the wild waves know not me;
Gladly would I change my boat
For the snow wings of the sea!

Look below. Each watery whirl
Cast in beauty's living mould!
Look above! Each feathery curl
Faintly tinged with morning gold!--
Oh, I tremble with the gush
Of an everlasting youth!
Love and fear together rush:
I am free in God, the Truth!


(1864)


George MacDonald