My Dream Is Of An Island Place

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.

Muhlinghaus cc by-nc-nd 2.0

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.

Splashing water at the bottom of the falls in Dominica

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.

Ivan Wong Rodenas CC BY ND 2 0

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?


Photo Credits: 1.) Liam Quinn CC BY-SA 2.0  2.) Henning Muhlinghaus CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  3.) Chris Favero CC BY-SA 2.0  4.) Bart CC BY-NC 2.0  5.) Ivan Wong Rodenas CC BY-ND 2.0  6.) Goran Hoglund CC BY-ND 2.0  7.) Liam Quinn CC BY-SA 2.0  8.) Al Shep Lowe  9.) Al Shep Lowe  10.) Denus Williams


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