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Eidolon - The Course of a Soul and Other Poems
by Walter R. Cassels
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Then the spirit "Ah! thou dearest, Wilt thou close thy heart from me? Through the shadow that thou fearest Heaven's own light will shine on thee.

"Like the streams that most refresh us In the desert parch'd and drear, Sorrow renders love more precious, Makes the cherish'd one more dear."

On—the spirit circled gently, Kindly round a Poet's heart, Gazing through the veil intently After life's diviner part;

And the poet bent to meet her, For he said "The truth will be Made through Sorrow ever sweeter, Ever clearer unto me.

"We are blinded by the sunlight From the heaven's unclouded blue, But through mist we eye the One-light Till we read it through and through."

To the beautiful the Spirit Open'd wide her loving breast, Wooed their souls to nestle near it And from life's excitement rest,

Whispering, "Sleep on Sorrow's bosom, Dear ones, and your souls will rise With fresh sweetness on their blossom, Richer perfume, brighter dyes."

Most shrunk from her, but some weeping Yielded to her soft controul; And whilst on that bosom sleeping Heaven-dew fell upon each soul.

Young and old fled from her ever Waving off her proffered grace, Thwarting each divine endeavour, Trembling still before her face;

And she said "Ah! ye are blinded, Seeing not the things that are, For unto the earnest-minded Sorrow is life's guiding star;

"Not delusive, not unsparing, Richer fraught with good than pain, Unto life sweet blessings bearing Though she scatter them in rain."



I.

WRITTEN AT ULLESWATER.

The tide is rippling to my very feet, The mountains are before me, and around, Stretching in misty grandeur till they meet In one dim bourne, their hoary summits crown'd With cloudy chaplets, such as might have bound The new-born Thunderer when Saturn fell, All wonder-stricken, from his mighty throne. The sun is shining upon wooded slopes, And distant headlands, with faint shadows thrown Amid its brightness like the shatter'd hopes Of a young noontide, and its golden light Crests the upheaving waters till each swell Is tremulous with glory, and the sight Pictures strange fancies which no tongue can tell.

II.

There is a spell by which the panting soul Shakes from its stainless pinions all the gyves Wherewith our frail mortality still strives To bind it downward 'neath its stern controul; When springing from the earth like the sweet lark That wings its flight in music to the sky, Amid the spheres it wanders, where the eye Trembles to blindness, and the last faint spark Of Earth's far gleaming flickers and expires; Thine is the charm, dear Poesy, which sets The caged spirit on its heavenward flight, And fills its being with those pure desires, And holy aspirations, which like light Shower on the world in distillations bright.

III.

We wander on through life as pilgrims do O'er trackless deserts to a distant shrine, Weary and parch'd, and to our longing view Springs many a false mirage of joy divine, That fades before us as we fain pursue The empty picture which our fancy drew. O thou, my heart! seek not the empty shows And gilded nothings of this little Time, But let thine endless effort be to climb Above Earth's petty vanities and woes Unto a nobler range of feelings, joys, Which no false leaven of decay alloys, But whose substantial sweetness may increase, And make thy journey pleasure, and thy slumber peace.

IV.

Sweet spirits of the Beautiful! where'er ye dwell, Whether upon the misty mountain tops With mantling crags about ye, or in dell And sunny valley, by the hazel copse Wherein the ring-dove nestles, or by streams That wander amid woodlands, with the sheen Of noontide trembling through the leafy screen Down to their mossy banks in fitful gleams, That murmur with the linnets and at e'en Sigh with the plaintive nightingale, and oft Mirror your bright eyes in the sparkling dew, Circle me ever with your joyous crew, Bring inspirations to me bland and soft, And sun my slumbers still with happy dreams.

V.

We are ambitious overmuch in life, Straining at ends of hard accomplishment, And goaded onward by poor discontent, We build our little Babels up through strife, And bitterness of soul, and motions rife With passions that oft slay the innocent, Like Priests of Lust plunging the cruel knife Into the victims of their wilderment. Not thus do thou, but with a patient hand Place thou thine acorn in the fertile soil, Labouring ever with unhurtful toil, And cheerful hope until the seed expand, Grow with the strength of truth, and ripening Time, And stand at last in majesty sublime.

VI.

Mountains! and huge hills! wrap your mighty forms Close with mantle of eternal cloud; Gather around ye the fierce band of storms; And let the stainless snow-drift be your shroud. Back from your rugged steeps, and caverns hoar Bellow in hoarse disdain the tempest's roar; Laugh at the rolling thunder; let the flash Of its fierce lightning lumine but your scorn; Down your deep-furrow'd slopes let torrents dash, And on the winds their hollow rage be borne. Ye mighty ones! Why should ye bow your pride, And doff your venerable crowns, or dress Your wrinkled brows in smiles, or lay aside The dread insignias of your mightiness!

VII.

TO ELLA.

Ofttimes I gaze upon thine eyes, fair child, Till sense forgets all but the beautiful, And my entranced and raptured heart is full Of blissful visions, pure, and bland, and mild In their o'erstealing, as the rosy sleep That falls upon an infant, wafting it In balmy dreams to heaven. Within the deep The thrilling sea of their blue loveliness, By sun-reflected gleams of heaven uplit, My spirit bathes in sweet unconsciousness Of aught material, and oft doth drink Of beauty there, whose freshness never dies, Till, pleasure-lapt, it feels as it could sink Beneath the waves, and enter paradise.

VIII.

I traverse oft in thought the battle-plain Of my past life, 'mid many a shatter'd dream Of pleasure, and of hope, which youth in vain Based on the shifting sands of Time's swift stream, Fond bulwarks 'gainst the strong assaults of pain; And 'mid their ruins, like an exiled man Gazing on scenes where he can dwell no more, I stand and mourn their sweet enchantment o'er, Where both life's pleasures and its cares began. Earth crumbles 'neath our feet as we walk on, And leaves a gulf behind none can retrace; Its pleasures flash a moment and are gone; But if we treasure in our soul love's grace, That will refresh and gladden all our race.

* * * * *

C. WHITTINGHAM, CHISWICK.

THE END

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