Back to top
I had clean forgotten all, her face who had caused my trouble.
Gone was she as a cloud, as a bird which passed in the wind, as a glittering stream-borne bubble,
As a shadow set by a ship on the sea, where the sail looks down on its double.
I had laid her face to the wall, on the shelf where my fancies sleep.
I had laid my pain in its grave, in its rose-leaf passionless grave, with the things I had dared not keep.
I had left it there. I had dried my tears. I had said, "Ah, why should I weep?"
I will not be fooled by her, by the spell of her fair child's face.
What is its meaning to me, who have seen, who have known, who have loved what miracle forms of grace?
What are its innocent wiles, its smiles, its idle sweet girlishness?
I will not love without love. I despise the ways of a fool.
Let me prevail as of old, as lover, as lord, as king, or have done with Love's tyrant rule.
I was born to command, not serve, not obey. No boy am I in Love's school.
I have fled to the fields, the plains, the desert places of rest,
To the forest's infinite smile, where the cushat calls from the trees and the yaffle has lined her nest,
To the purple hills with the spray of the sea, when the wind blows loud from the west.
I have done with her love and her, the wine-draughts of human pleasure.
The voice of nature is best, the cradle song of the trees which is hymned to Time's stateliest measure,
As once a boy in the woods I heard it and held it an exquisite treasure.
I had clean forgotten all. I had sung to the indolent hills
Songs of joy without grief, since grief is of human things the shadow of human ills.
I sang aloud in my pride of song to the chime of the answering rills.
And, behold, the whole world heard, the dull mad man-ridden Earth.
And they cried, "A prophet hath risen, a sage with the heart of a child, a bard of no human birth,
A soul that hath known nor pain, nor sin, a singer of infinite mirth."
And she too heard it and came. And she knew it was I grown wise.
And she stood from the rest apart, and I watched her with pitying scorn, and then with a sad surprise,
And last with a new sweet passionate joy, for I saw there were tears in her eyes.
And she came and sat at my feet, as in days ere our grief began.
And I saw her a woman grown. And I was a prophet no more, but a desolate voiceless man.
And I clasped her fast in my arms in joy and kissed her tears as they ran.
And I shall not be fooled by her, though her face is fair as a rose.
And I shall not live without love, though the world should forget my songs and I should forget its woes,
And the purple hills should forget the sea and the spray when the west wind blows.