I walked all night: the darkness did not yield.
Around me fell a mist, a weary rain,
Enduring long; till a faint dawn revealed
A temple's front, cloud-curtained on the plain.
Closed were the lofty doors that led within;
But by a wicket one might entrance gain.
O light, and awe, and silence! Entering in,
The blackness and chaotic rain were lost
In hopeful spaces. Then I heard a thin
Sweet sound of voices low, together tossed,
As if they sought a harmony to find
Which they knew once; but none of all that host
Could call the far-fled music back to mind.
Loud voices, distance-low, wandered along
The pillared paths, and up the arches twined
With sister-arches, rising, throng on throng,
Up to the roof's dim distance. If sometimes
Self-gathered voices made a burst of song,
Straightway I heard again but as the chimes
Of many bells through Sabbath morning sent,
Each its own tale to tell of heavenly climes.
Yet such the hope, one might be well content
Here to be low, and lowly keep a door;
For like Truth's herald, solemnly that went,
I heard thy voice, and humbly loved it more,
Walking the word-sea to this ear of mine,
Than any voice of power I heard before.
Yet as the harp may, tremulous, combine
Low ghostlike sounds with organ's loudest tone,
Let not my music fear to come to thine:
Thy heart, with organ-tempests of its own,
Will hear Aeolian sighs from thin chords blown.
Written May, 1857.
Thus, once, long since, the daring of my youth Drew nigh thy greatness with a little thing; And thou didst take me in: thy home of truth Has domed me since, a heaven of sheltering, Uplighted by the tenderness and grace Which round thy absolute friendship ever fling A radiant atmosphere. Turn not thy face From that small part of earnest thanks, I pray, Which, spoken, leaves much more in speechless case. I saw thee as a strong man on his way! Up the great peaks: I know thee stronger still; Thy intellect unrivalled in its sway, Upheld and ordered by a regnant will; While Wisdom, seer and priest of holy Fate, Searches all truths, its prophecy to fill: Yet, O my friend, throned in thy heart so great, High Love is queen, and hath no equal mate.