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Alfred Noyes

Mist in the Valley


Mist in the valley, weeping mist

Beset my homeward way.

No gleam of rose or amethyst

Hallowed the parting day;

A shroud, a shroud of awful grey

Wrapped every woodland brow,

And drooped in crumbling disarray

Around each wintry bough.


And closer round me now it clung

Until I scarce could see

The stealthy pathway overhung

By silent tree and tree

Which floated in that mystery

As—poised in waveless deeps—

Branching in worlds below the sea,

The grey sea-forest sleeps.


Mist in the valley, mist no less

Within my groping mind!

The stile swam out: a wilderness

Rolled round it, grey and blind.

A yard in front, a yard behind,

So strait my world was grown,

I stooped to win once more some kind

Glimmer of twig or stone.


I crossed and lost the friendly stile

And listened. Never a sound

Came to me. Mile on mile on mile

It seemed the world around

Beneath some infinite sea lay drowned

With all that e'er drew breath;

Whilst I, alone, had strangely found

A moment's life in death.


A universe of lifeless grey

Oppressed me overhead.

Below, a yard of clinging clay

With rotting foliage red

Glimmered. The stillness of the dead,

Hark!—was it broken now

By the slow drip of tears that bled

From hidden heart or bough.


Mist in the valley, mist no less

That muffled every cry

Across the soul's grey wilderness

Where faith lay down to die;

Buried beyond all hope was I,

Hope had no meaning there:

A yard above my head the sky

Could only mock at prayer.


E'en as I groped along, the gloom

Suddenly shook at my feet!

O, strangely as from a rending tomb

In resurrection, sweet

Swift wings tumultuously beat

Away! I paused to hark—

O, birds of thought, too fair, too fleet

To follow across the dark!


Yet, like a madman's dream, there came

One fair swift flash to me

Of distances, of streets a-flame

With joy and agony,

And further yet, a moon-lit sea

Foaming across its bars,

And further yet, the infinity

Of wheeling suns and stars,


And further yet . . . O, mist of suns

I grope amidst your light,

O, further yet, what vast response

From what transcendent height?

Wild wings that burst thro' death's dim night

I can but pause and hark;

For O, ye are too swift, too white,

To follow across the dark!


Mist in the valley, yet I saw,

And in my soul I knew

The gleaming City whence I draw

The strength that then I drew,

My misty pathway to pursue

With steady pulse and breath

Through these dim forest-ways of dew

And darkness, life and death.