Gateway to the Classics: Display Item
Alfred Noyes

The Two Worlds

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.