This outer world is but the pictured scroll
Of worlds within the soul,
A coloured chart, a blazoned missal-book
Whereon who rightly look
May spell the splendours with their mortal eyes
And steer to Paradise.
O, well for him that knows and early knows
In his own soul the rose
Secretly burgeons, of this earthly flower
The heavenly paramour:
And all these fairy dreams of green-wood fern,
These waves that break and yearn,
Shadows and hieroglyphs, hills, clouds and seas,
Faces and flowers and trees,
Terrestrial picture-parables, relate
Each to its heavenly mate.
O, well for him that finds in sky and sea
This two-fold mystery,
And loses not (as painfully he spells
The fine-spun syllables)
The cadences, the burning inner gleam,
The poet's heavenly dream.
Well for the poet if this earthly chart
Be printed in his heart,
When to his world of spirit woods and seas
With eager face he flees
And treads the untrodden fields of unknown flowers
And threads the angelic bowers,
And hears that unheard nightingale whose moan
Trembles within his own,
And lovers murmuring in the leafy lanes
Of his own joys and pains.
For though he voyages further than the flight
Of earthly day and night,
Traversing to the sky's remotest ends
A world that he transcends,
Safe, he shall hear the hidden breakers roar
Against the mystic shore;
Shall roam the yellow sands where sirens bare
Their breasts and wind their hair;
Shall with their perfumed tresses blind his eyes,
And still possess the skies.
He, where the deep unearthly jungles are,
Beneath his Eastern star
Shall pass the tawny lion in his den
And cross the quaking fen.
He learnt his path (and treads it undefiled)
When, as a little child,
He bent his head with long and loving looks
O'er earthly picture-books.
His earthly love nestles against his side,
His young celestial guide.