Victor James William Patrick Daley (1858-1905)
Last night, as one who hears a tragic jest,
I woke from dreams, half-laughing, half in tears;
Methought that I had journeyed in the spheres
And stood upon the Planet of the Blest
And found thereon a folk who prayed with zest
Exceeding, and through all their painful years
Like strong souls struggled on 'mid hopes and fears;
"Where dwell the gods," they said, "we shall find rest."
The gods? What gods, I thought, are those who so
Inspire their worshippers with faith that flowers
Immortal? and who make them keep aglow
The flames forever on their altar-towers?
"Where dwell these gods of yours?" I asked--and lo!
They pointed upwards to this earth of ours!
The awful seers of old who wrote, in words
Like drops of blood, great thoughts that through the night
Of ages burn, as eyes of lions light
Deep jungle-dusks; who smote with songs like swords
The soul of man on its most secret chords,
And made the heart of him a harp to smite--
Where are they? Where that old man lorn of sight,
The king of song among these laurelled lords?
But where are all the ancient singing-spheres
That burst through chaos like the summer's breath
Through ice-bound seas where never seaman steers?
Burnt out. Gone down. No star remembereth
These stars and seers well-silenced through the years--
The songless years of everlasting death.
What know we of the dead, who say these things,
Or of the life in death below the mould--
What of the mystic laws that rule the old
Grey realms beyond our poor imaginings
Where death is life? The bird with spray-wet wings
Knows more of what the deeps beneath him hold.
Let be! Warm hearts shall never wax a-cold,
But burn in roses through eternal springs;
For all the vanished fruit and flower of Time
Are flower and fruit in worlds we cannot see,
And all we see is as a shadow-mime
Of things unseen, and Time that comes to flee
Is but the broken echo of a rhyme
In God's great epic of Eternity.
The Sonnet in Australasia