Passages from An Island by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
My dream is of an island place
By distant seas kept lonely
A little island, on whose face
The stars are watchers only.
Those bright still stars! they need not seem
Brighter or stiller in my dream.
Hills running up to heaven for light
Through woods that half-way ran,
As if the wild earth mimicked right
The wilder heart of man:
Only it shall be greener far
And gladder than hearts ever are.
More like, perhaps, that mountain piece
Of Dante’s paradise,
Disrupt to an hundred hills like these,
In falling from the skies;
Bringing within it, all the roots
Of heavenly trees and flowers and fruits.
Trees, trees on all sides! they combine
Their plumy shades to throw,
Through whose clear fruit and blossom fine
Whene’er the sun may go,
The ground beneath he deeply stains,
As passing through cathedral panes.
I said that two or three might choose
Their dwelling near mine own:
Those who would change man’s voice and use,
For Nature’s way and tone–
Man’s veering heart and careless eyes,
For Nature’s steadfast sympathies.
No sod in all that island doth
Yawn open for the dead;
No wind hath borne a traitor’s oath;
No earth, a mourner’s tread;
We cannot say by stream or shade,
‘I suffered here–was here betrayed.’
Gently yet strangely uttered words!
They lift me from my dream;
The island fadeth with its swards
That did no more than seem:
The streams are dry, no sun could find–
The fruits are fallen…
So oft the doing of God’s will
Our foolish wills undoeth!
And yet what idle dream breaks ill,
Which morning-light subdueth?
And who would murmur and misdoubt,
When God’s great sunrise finds him out?
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