The droning tram swings westward: shrillthe wire sings overhead, and chillmidwinter draughts rattle the glassthat shows the dusking way I passto yon four-turreted square towerthat still exalts the golden hourwhere youth, initiate once, endearsa treasure richer with the years.
Dim-seen, the upper stories fleetalong the twisting shabby street;beneath, the shop-fronts' cover'd waysbask in their lampions' orange blaze,or stare phantasmal, weirdly new,in the electrics' ghastly blue:and, up and down, I see them go,along the windows pleas'd and slowbut hurrying where the darkness falls,the city's drift of pavement thrallswhom the poor pleasures of the streetlure from their niggard homes, to meetand mix, unknown, and feel the brightbanality 'twixt them and night:so, in my youth, I saw them flitwhere their delusive dream was lit;so now I see them, and can readthe urge of their unwitting needone with my own, however dark,and questing towards one mother-ark.
But, past the gin-shop's ochrous flare,sudden, a gap of quiet airand gather'd dark, where, set a pacebeyond the pavement's coiling raceand mask'd by bulk of sober leaves,the plain obtruncate chancel heaves,whose lancet-windows faintly showsuffusion of a ruddy glow,the lamp of adoration, dimand rich with unction kept for Himwhom Bethlehem's manger first made warm,the sweetest god in human form,love's prisoner in the Eucharist,man's pleading, patient amorist:and there the sacring laver standswhere I was brought in pious hands,a chrisom-child, that I might beaccepted of that companywho, thro' their journeying, beholdbeyond the apparent heavens, controll'dto likeness of a candid rose,ascending where the gold heart glows,cirque within cirque, the blessed host,their kin, their comfort, and their boast.
With them I walk'd in love and awetill I was ware of that grim mawand lazar-pit that reek'd beneath:what outcast howlings these? what teethgnashing in vain? and was that blisswhose counter-hemisphere was this?and could it be, when times fulfill'dhad made the tally of either guild,that this mid-world, dredg'd clean in both,should no more bar their gruesome troth?So from beneath that choiring tentI stepp'd, and tho' my spirit's bentwas dark to me as yet, I soughta sphere appeas'd and undistraught;and found viaticum and goalin that hard atom of the soul,that final grain of deathless mind,which Satan's watch-fiends shall not findnor the seven mills of darkness bruise,for all permission to abuse;stubborn, yet, if one seek aright,translucent all within and brightwith sheen that hath no paradigm,not where our proud Golcondas brim,tho' sky and sea and leaf and flower,in each rare mood of virtual power,sleep in their gems' excepted day:and so, nor long, the guarded raybroke on my eagerness, who broughtthe lucid diamond-probe of thoughtand, driving it behind, the extremeblind vehemence of travailing dreamagainst the inhibitory shell:and found, no grim eternal celland presence of the shrouded Norn,but Eden, clad in nuptial morn,young, fair, and radiant with delightremorse nor sickness shall requite.
Yes, Eden was my own, my bride;whatever malices denied,faithful and found again, nor longabsent from aura of wooing song:but promis'd only, while the sunmust travel yet thro' times undone;and life must guard the prize of youth,and thought must steward into truththe mines of magian ore divinedin rich Cipangos of the mind:and I, that made my high attemptno bliss whence any were exempt,their fellow-pilgrim, I must greetthese listless captives of the street,these fragments of an orphan'd driftwhose dower was our mother's thrift,and, tho' they know it not, have careof what would be their loving prayerif skill bestow'd might help them heedtheir craving for the simple meedto be together in the lightwhen loneliness and dark incite:long is the way till we are metwhen Eden pays her hoarded debtand we are orb'd in her, and shehath still'd her hungering to be,with plenitude beyond impeach,single, distinct, and whole in each:and many an evening hour shall bringthe dark crowd's dreary loiteringto me who pass and see the taleof all my striving, bliss or bale,dated from either spire that strivesclear of the shoal of shiftless lives,and promise, in all years' despite,fidelity to old delight.