The Land Of Pallas

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Methought I journeyed along ways that led for ever
  Throughout a happy land where strife and care were dead,
And life went by me flowing like a placid river
  Past sandy eyots where the shifting shoals make head.

A land where beauty dwelt supreme, and right, the donor
  Of peaceful days; a land of equal gifts and deeds,
Of limitless fair fields and plenty had with honour;
  A land of kindly tillage and untroubled meads,

Of gardens, and great fields, and dreaming rose-wreathed alleys,
  Wherein at dawn and dusk the vesper sparrows sang;
Of cities set far off on hills down vista'd valleys,
  And floods so vast and old, men wist not whence they sprang,

Of groves, and forest depths, and fountains softly welling,
  And roads that ran soft-shadowed past the open doors,
Of mighty palaces and many a lofty dwelling,
  Where all men entered and no master trod their floors.

A land of lovely speech, where every tone was fashioned
  By generations of emotion high and sweet,
Of thought and deed and bearing lofty and impassioned;
  A land of golden calm, grave forms, and fretless feet.

And every mode and saying of that land gave token
  Of limits where no death or evil fortune fell,
And men lived out long lives in proud content unbroken,
  For there no man was rich, none poor, but all were well.

And all the earth was common, and no base contriving
  Of money of coined gold was needed there or known,
But all men wrought together without greed or striving,
  And all the store of all to each man was his own.

From all that busy land, grey town, and peaceful village,
  Where never jar was heard, nor wail, nor cry of strife,
From every laden stream and all the fields of tillage,
  Arose the murmur and the kindly hum of life.

At morning to the fields came forth the men, each neighbour
  Hand linked to other, crowned, with wreaths upon their hair,
And all day long with joy they gave their hands to labour,
  Moving at will, unhastened, each man to his share.

At noon the women came, the tall fair women, bearing
  Baskets of wicker in their ample hands for each,
And learned the day's brief tale, and how the fields were faring,
  And blessed them with their lofty beauty and blithe speech.

And when the great day's toil was over, and the shadows
  Grew with the flocking stars, the sound of festival
Rose in each city square, and all the country meadows,
  Palace, and paven court, and every rustic hall.

Beside smooth streams, where alleys and green gardens meeting
  Ran downward to the flood with marble steps, a throng
Came forth of all the folk, at even, gaily greeting,
  With echo of sweet converse, jest, and stately song.

In all their great fair cities there was neither seeking
  For power of gold, nor greed of lust, nor desperate pain
Of multitudes that starve, or, in hoarse anger breaking,
  Beat at the doors of princes, break and fall in vain.

But all the children of that peaceful land, like brothers,
  Lofty of spirit, wise, and ever set to learn
The chart of neighbouring souls, the bent and need of others,
  Thought only of good deeds, sweet speech, and just return.

And there there was no prison, power of arms, nor palace,
  Where prince or judge held sway, for none was needed there;
Long ages since the very names of fraud and malice
  Had vanished from men's tongues, and died from all men's care.

And there there were no bonds of contract, deed, or marriage,
  No oath, nor any form, to make the word more sure,
For no man dreamed of hurt, dishonour, or miscarriage,
  Where every thought was truth, and every heart was pure.

There were no castes of rich or poor, of slave or master,
  Where all were brothers, and the curse of gold was dead,
But all that wise fair race to kindlier ends and vaster
  Moved on together with the same majestic tread.

And all the men and women of that land were fairer
  Than even the mightiest of our meaner race can be;
The men like gentle children, great of limb, yet rarer
  For wisdom and high thought, like kings for majesty.

And all the women through great ages of bright living,
  Grown goodlier of stature, strong, and subtly wise,
Stood equal with the men, calm counsellors, ever giving
  The fire and succour of proud faith and dauntless eyes.

And as I journeyed in that land I reached a ruin,
  The gateway of a lonely and secluded waste,
A phantom of forgotten time and ancient doing,
  Eaten by age and violence, crumbled and defaced.

On its grim outer walls the ancient world's sad glories
  Were recorded in fire; upon its inner stone,
Drawn by dead hands, I saw, in tales and tragic stories,
  The woe and sickness of an age of fear made known.

And lo, in that grey storehouse, fallen to dust and rotten,
  Lay piled the traps and engines of forgotten greed,
The tomes of codes and canons, long disused, forgotten,
  The robes and sacred books of many a vanished creed.

An old grave man I found, white-haired and gently spoken,
  Who, as I questioned, answered with a smile benign,
'Long years have come and gone since these poor gauds were broken,
  Broken and banished from a life made more divine.

'But still we keep them stored as once our sires deemed fitting,
  The symbol of dark days and lives remote and strange,
Lest o'er the minds of any there should come unwitting
  The thought of some new order and the lust of change.

'If any grow disturbed, we bring them gently hither,
  To read the world's grim record and the sombre lore
Massed in these pitiless vaults, and they returning thither,
  Bear with them quieter thoughts, and make for change no more.'

And thence I journeyed on by one broad way that bore me
  Out of that waste, and as I passed by tower and town
I saw amid the limitless plain far out before me
  A long low mountain, blue as beryl, and its crown

Was capped by marble roofs that shone like snow for whiteness,
  Its foot was deep in gardens, and that blossoming plain
Seemed in the radiant shower of its majestic brightness
  A land for gods to dwell in, free from care and pain.

And to and forth from that fair mountain like a river
  Ran many a dim grey road, and on them I could see
A multitude of stately forms that seemed for ever
  Going and coming in bright bands; and near to me

Was one that in his journey seemed to dream and linger,
  Walking at whiles with kingly step, then standing still,
And him I met and asked him, pointing with my finger,
  The meaning of the palace and the lofty hill.

Whereto the dreamer: 'Art thou of this land, my brother,
  And knowest not the mountain and its crest of walls,
Where dwells the priestless worship of the all-wise mother?
  That is the hill of Pallas; those her marble halls!

'There dwell the lords of knowledge and of thought increasing,
  And they whom insight and the gleams of song uplift;
And thence as by a hundred conduits flows unceasing
  The spring of power and beauty, an eternal gift.'

Still I passed on until I reached at length, not knowing
  Whither the tangled and diverging paths might lead,
A land of baser men, whose coming and whose going
  Were urged by fear, and hunger, and the curse of greed.

I saw the proud and fortunate go by me, faring
  In fatness and fine robes, the poor oppressed and slow,
The faces of bowed men, and piteous women bearing
  The burden of perpetual sorrow and the stamp of woe.

And tides of deep solicitude and wondering pity
  Possessed me, and with eager and uplifted hands
I drew the crowd about me in a mighty city,
  And taught the message of those other kindlier lands.

I preached the rule of Faith and brotherly Communion,
  The law of Peace and Beauty and the death of Strife,
And painted in great words the horror of disunion,
  The vainness of self-worship, and the waste of life.

I preached, but fruitlessly; the powerful from their stations
  Rebuked me as an anarch, envious and bad,
And they that served them with lean hands and bitter patience
  Smiled only out of hollow orbs, and deemed me mad.

And still I preached, and wrought, and still I bore my message,
  For well I knew that on and upward without cease
The spirit works for ever, and by Faith and Presage
  That somehow yet the end of human life is Peace.

© Archibald Lampman