A Chant Of Mystics

- 1876-1940


From the Mist of Arcana we rise,
Through the Universe of Secrets we come,
And we enter the Tavern as Lovers,
Whose features are pale as the false dawn,
Whose statures are lean as the new moon.
Like unto a jar is the body,
And the soul in the jar
Is the silvery voice of the Fountain, 
Is the rose-scented breath of the Mountain,

         For your sake we have come
            In the shape of a jar from the Sea ; 
         For your sake we have come as Disgrace,
            But glory incarnate are we.
         For the sake of the world we dance
         O’er the flame, on the point of the lance.
            O, think us not mortal, for we
         Are the light on the foam of the sea. 

Of a truth, we are kin to the sun,
The infinite source of all splendors ;
We are one
With the world’s riddles and wonders.
But not of the world nor the sun is the breath
That lingers awhile in the regions of Death.
The dust on our sandals betrays us, we know—
We have travelled afar our devotion to show
To him who is waiting for us at the gate
Of the Garden of Union our longing to sate.

         We shall interpret the Truth, 
            We shall the Secret unveil ;
         For naked we come, like the dew,
            Like the zephyr, we come, and the gale :
         Naked, through thorn-bush and grass,
            We speak and we pass.
         Our garments were burned in the fire of the Mind,
         In the world where the Deaf still dispute with the 
We are the Truth,
        And into the world
        From the Universe of Secrets we’re hurled.
We are the Truth,
        And into the skies
        From the Mists of Arcana we rise. 


In the light of the day, in the stars of the night we 
The face of the Master, the feet of the Pilgrim of old ; 
In the sigh of the wind and the voice of the thunder
        we hear
The plaint of the bard and the rhapsodic chant of the 
       Without them, alas, we are dumb,
       Though not deaf to the flute and the drum.
         But the vision is true,
              Allahu, Allahu!
         They are garbed in blue,
              Allahu, Allahu!
         They are drenched with dew,
              Allahu, Allahu!

Hail, Sana’i the Moon of the Soul,
The Guide and the Road to the goal.
Hail, Attar the Vezier of Birds,
Who sing in his musk-scented words.
Hail, Arabi, the Tongue of the Truth,
The Eye of the Prophet, in sooth.
Hail, Rabi’a, the Heart of the Sphere,
Beloved of the bard and the seer ;
The Rosebud that rises to greet
The splendor beneath Allah’s feet. 
Hail, Gazzali, the Weaver of Light,
The maker of wings for the flight.
Hail, Hallaj, the Diver divine,
Whose pearls decorate every shrine, 
Whose blood was the pledge that his words,
I am Truth, shall fore’er be a sign.
To Jelal’ud-Din Rumi, all hail !
The Master who flung every veil
To the wind, who ne’er sober was seen,
Though ne’er to the tavern had been ; 
But ever—and often alone—
Was dancing before Allah’s throne.
Hail, Tabrizi, who nourished the Bard
With jasmine and myrtle and nard ;—
Who loafed and invited his soul
And would not write a word in his Scroll.
Hail, Fared, the love-stricken one,
The heart of the rhapsodic Sun ;
The soul of the Vineyard, the Press
That knew every vineyard’s caress :
The host of the Tavern divine—
The Saki, the Cup, and the Wine. 

        The vision is true,
           Allahu, Allahu!
        They are garbed in blue,
           Allahu, Allahu!
        They are drenched with dew,
           Allahu, Allahu!

        And casting the years from their folds and the
        From their bosoms, they leap in the circle of flame ; 
        They leap, with a flash of their limbs, to the dance
        In the tender caress of the Beautiful’s glance.
For only in rapture the face of Belovéd is seen
Through the mask of the spheres and the veils of
        existence terrene ;
And only the slaves of Devotion and Love have the feet
That dare to approach the enravishing glow of the 
Yea, hither we come as the flame of his rapturous fire,
And to the music of rebec and flute, in the dance, we


    Yea, Man is as near the Belovéd
    As far from the world he may be ;
    He is full of the beauty of Allah
    As he’s void of the Thou and the Me. 
    Life and the world we abandon 
    That the Life of the world we may see.
    O, come to the assembly of Lovers
    In the shade of the Tuba tree.
    O, come to the Banquet of Union
    And the taste of the ecstasy.
    O, come to the Tavern where nectar
    And wine are a-flow as the sea.
    For only the drunken are sober,
    And only the fettered are free.

Like the waves of the ocean we rise and we melt into 
That the Moon’s caravan might carry us back to our
Likes the motes in the sun-beam we dance in the dawn’s
That the sun might preserve us awhile from dust and
         decay ;
But the atoms of being, the motes in the Sun of his
Are aflame with desire to be where no night is nor day.

Like a child in the cradle whose mother must rock it
         to sleep,
    We rock to and fro that the child of our heart might
         be still;
Like the lonely palm, when the whirlwinds over it 
    We sigh and we chafe in our chains, and we bow to
         his will. 

Like the bird in the cage who pecks at his sugar and
So we, in the Cage of the world, to quiet our wings. 
But the vulgar will say that the dance of the palm ’s
         to the wind, 
And the bird to the sugar is singing—Alas! for the
We come for their sake in the shape of a jar from the 
         Sea ;
We are filled with the water that heals ; and though
         sealed, we are free. 

        Nor Crescent Nor Cross we adore ;
        Nor Budha nor Christ we implore ;
        Nor Muslem nor Jew we abhor :
                We are free. 

        We are not of Iran or of Ind,
        We are not of Arabia or Sind :
                We are free. 

        We are not of the East or the West ;
        No boundaries exist in our breast :
                We are free. 

         We are not made of dust or of dew ;
         We are not of the earth or the blue :
                We are free.

        We are not wrought of fire or of foam ;
        Nor the sun nor the sea is our home ;
        Nor the angel our kin nor the gnome :
                We are free.

Yea, beyond all the moons and the suns and the stars,
         in a place
Where no shadow of horizon is, nor of darkness a 
Where the Garden of God is a bloom on Love’s radiant
There is our temple, our home, and our own native
Yea, body and soul to the world and the sun do we 
And in the First Soul—the Soul of Belovéd—eternally


        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake !
          O Lovers, arise and prepare !
        The drum of departure we hear ;
          The Driver is come for the fare.
        The camels are ready ; their bells
          Are decking with silver the air.
        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake !
          O Lovers, arise and prepare!

        The nightingale sings on the branch
          To wake up the blossoms; the creek
        Whispers a word to the fern,
          Who follows, his favor to seek ;
        The tulip is begging to go
          With the zephyr who kisses her cheek ;
        The face of the Mist is a-glow,
          For Dawn mounts the Minaret to speak :
        Open the road is, and safe ;
          No gates and no sentries are there ;
        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake!
          O Lovers, arise and prepare!

        Each moment a spirit is sent
          With a message of mystery sealed ;
        Each moment a spirit goes forth
          That the mystery might be revealed.
        And whenever the Dawn opes his eyes,
          A blind one on the wayfare is healed ;
        Whenever a Lover appears,
          The Night drops her star-studded shield ;
        Whenever a Lover is slain,
          Blooms a flower in the world’s barley field.
        And always the pangs of departure
          Are wrought into torches that flare.
        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake!
          O Lovers, arise and prepare.

Ere the saki was born, ere the vineyard existed,
    The cup, bright and brimful, enchanted our eyne ;
Ere the tavern was built, we revelled and trysted
    With the loved One and drank to his beauty divine.
We drink till we wander away from Self and Desire,—
We drink till in drunkenness we, on his bosom, expire. 
We have known long ago all the raptures of madness ;
    All the raptures of burning from childhood we know ;
In our soul is the soul of the Mother of gladness ;
    In our heart is the heart of the Father of woe.
Transported and smitten, we wander with ne’er a 
         complaint ;
Our story entrances the sinner, enraptures the saint. 

Transported and smitten and drunk, we are thought
         to be mad ;
   Self abandoned, unity-seeking, we’re the puzzle of 
         fools ;
For the madman’s madness is varied in art, and the 
   Piety-monger tickles his heart while he drools.
O, mind not the springs of our robe, they were loosed
         in the revel ;—
They snapped when we drank with the saint and
         danced with the devil. 

There is nothing that we would conceal in the seeking ;
    Our love is the sun and our passion its flame ;
To dance-hall or tavern, we come not a-sneaking ;
    For the right and the wrong of the world are the
And if you are a seeker, the blood of Hypocrisy shed ;
Nor be trammeled by Shame — take a poniard and cut
         off her head. 

        For your sake we have come
            In the shape of a jar from the Sea ;
        For your sake we have come as Disgrace.
            But glory incarnate are we.
        O think us not mortal, for we
            Are the light on the foam of the sea. 

Still higher our rank, though we come
    With the flute and drum. 
In the veils of the world do we come
    With the flute and the drum.
As vigilant warders we come
    With the flute and the drum.
To call you to the Tavern we come
    With the flute and the drum.


Perchance in our sleep we become unaware
    Of the circumstance strange of our birth ;
Perchance a hair
     Divides the heaven and the earth. 
But whether two worlds or a hundred, the loved One
           is all ;
    Only one do we seek, only One do we know,
        Only One do we hear, do we see, do we call.
We come as the heroes and slaves of the Mighty, the
           Dear ;
We come as the mind and the soul of the violet Sphere. 

What place have your meat and your bread 
Where we were first born, and first fed
   Through our eye and our ear ?
And now, without eyes we can see,
Without tongues we can speak,
   Without ears we can hear.
And when the clouds and the storms of the Mind
   Darken and shut out the skies,
We kindle the torch of the Heart,
   Which we give to the mighty and wise. 

For the heart is the bird of a world made holy by song ;
’T is the love-lorn and love-guided bulbul the owls
And when it wings all exultant its way over mountain
         and moor,
It dreads nor the depths nor the heights nor the
         transcending lure.

The heart is a treasure of gold in the dust-pit of things;
’T is the rebec of love and of love forever it sing ;
’T is the pearl in the sea and the phare on the shore
         of the Mind ;
’T is the ear of the deaf and the all-seeing eye of the 

The heart is the maker of dreams, the alembic of
         power ;
’T is the gate to all beauty, the key to the ivory tower ;
’T is the crown of the Budha, the Christ, ’t is the
         sword of the Prophet ;
’T the flame in the temple of faith, and of reason,
         the flower. 

The heart is the last star that leaves in the wake of
         the Night,
And the first star that ushers Aurora’s pageant of light ;
’T is the first and the last ray of hope, the salvation
         of man ;
’T is our guide and our standard—the leader of our

         Hearken! the voice of our leader
             In the dawn’s stillness and glow ;
         Allahu, Allahu! We’re ready ! 
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go? 

         The hour of departure is come,
             The caravan ’s moving. Woh ho!
         We are bound for a country of wonder.
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         Wherever we stop on the way
             Is a feast for the heart, and a show ;
         Everywhere, too, is a tavern,
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         He who has led us thus far
             Will lead us still further, we know :
         He opens to us every gate, 
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         He is the magnet and we
             Are but pieces of steel: woh ho !
         Earthward the Magnet is moving!—
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         Sweet scents from the curl of his tresses
             Are a-float on the breezes that blow
         From the radiant peaks of the world :—
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         As we fix our amorous gaze
             Upon him more amorous we grow :
         He moves in a soul-witching maze :—
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

Come ! but come empty of purse and empty of hand ;
    Who travel with us shall not hunger or thirst, nor
             shall need ;
For the stores of the Master are open in every land,
    And his Stewards, the Earth and the Sun, his wishes

         He is our need,
         Our staff and our creed ;
         Of our hope and despair,
         He’s the Sun and the Seed. 

Come, but come empty of heart and empty of mind ;
    Who travel with us shall not carry a thought or a 
         care ; 
For they who all things abandon, everything find, 
    And they who are drawn to the loved One, escape
         every snare. 

         He is our care,
         Our goal and our snare ;
         Of our grief and our joy, 
         The bequeather and heir. 


Grape-juice must ferment in the jar,
           Ere it turns into wine ;
So the heart, in the jar of Desire,
           To sparkle and shine.
Like the face of the mirror that ’s clear
           Of image and form,
So the heart must be free of e’en the shadows
           To reflect the divine.
O Brothers, our words are the petals
           Of the rose that eternally blooms
In the thornless rose-bush of the Soul
           Which his image assumes. 
O Brothers, our word is the truth,
           Our standard the guide ;
No Sufis are speaking, but he 
           In whom all things abide. 
Yes, his parrots are we, sugar-chewing
           And repeating his words evermore,
While the habitants rude of the world
           Camel-like thistles devour. 

             Sugar-chewing we come for your sake :
             Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake!
             The cypress that once graced the grove,
             Is a-float on the river of Love. 

O Lovers, the Veil of the Secret he rends,
And like light drops of water, he gently descends. 
He walks on the face of the turbulent sea,
Driving before him the waves to their lee ;
Like a shepherd he calls, and his flock turned to foam,
Scurries and scampers, impatient for home.
A moment, alas !   When his face is revealed,
All the wounds of the world are miraculously healed.
A moment, alas !   When his light disappears,
The world is submerged in an ocean of tears.

             We are the light that is spun
             For the firefly and the sun ;
             We are the thread in the pearls
             Of the sea and the tear.

Make use of our pearls, and our foam, and our fire ;
    For your sake we have come as Disgrace from the 
         Sea ;—
For your sake we have come in the flesh of Desire,
    But glory and beauty incarnate are we. 
We are the flowers in his Garden, the lights in his Hall,
The sign on his Portal, but he, he is all,—he is all !

             The banquet, the host, and the guest,—
             The seeker, the sought, and the quest,—
                   All three,
                   Is he.
             The given, the taker, the giver,—
             Love, the beloved, the lover,—
                   All three,
                   Is he.

And we, to rejoin him, like torrents, escape through the 
         hills ;
No fetters, no walls can restrain us, no welfare, no ills.

             Hope is sighing,
             Faith is crying,
             Creeds are dying,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             A clap of thunder
             Rents asunder
             Man’s little Wonder,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Idols tumble
             In a jumble
             Temples crumble,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Flames are sweeping ;
             Priests are reaping ;
             Kings are weeping,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Ashes cumber
             Flame and ember,
             Who remember—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Night is crawling,
             Stars are falling,
             Souls are calling—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Orbs are winging, 
             And of him singing,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Clove and nard, in
             His first garden,
             Wait his pardon,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Every flower
             In his bower
             Is Love’s dower,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             His compassion
             And his passion
             Are our fashion,—
                   Allah, Allah!

Whirl, whirl, whirl,
Till the world is the size of a pearl.
Dance, dance, dance,
Till the world’s like the point of a lance. 
Soar, soar, soar,
Till the world is no more. 

To The Sonnet

Though cribbed and gyved, thou canst within thy 
Unfold a wondrous wealth of worlds unseen,
And flood the soul’s abyss with moon-light sheen,
As well as darken passions’ gilded halls ; 
Thy fourteen outlets are so many falls 
From which gush out the prisoned joy, or 
The silvery cascades, or the billows green,
And either a sea of bliss or grief recalls. 
Thou goddess of the gems of Fancy’s deep, 
Though few thy facets, they reflect the whole 
Of inner-self in multi-shaded hues ; 
Thou art the couch of dreams that never sleep ; 
Thou art the phoenix of the poet’s soul,
As well the crystal palace of his muse.

A Peasant's Song

O, thou, who loved me once,
From thy Pagoda glance ;
Shoot down a poisoned lance :
        All’s well that comes from thee.

Look back, look down once more ;
Dear was to thee this shore ;
I see thee nevermore
        Beneath the olive tree.

Remains my station low,
Whilst thou dost greater grow ;
Ah, fate hath struck the blow
        That parted thee and me.

How can I bear my fate,
How can I loveless wait
In this most sorry state,
        When thou art far and free?

Far from the soul that swore
On love’s abysmal door
To cling forevermore
        To none on earth but thee ;

Free from the sacred plight
Which, to dispel the night,
Thou madest, when I quite
        Fell near thy bended knee.

Dost thou not still remember
Love’s May and Love’s December?
Both burned their sacred ember
        In our sweet company.

Dost hear the echoes fall
Within thy gilded hall?
Dost thou not ever recall
        The day thou wert like me?

When all thy gardens bloom,
Look out into the gloom ;
There does the flame consume
        Thy budless lilac tree.

There often thou didst play
A-mindless of the day
When soul to soul would say :
        “No more of thee and me.”

And when withers thy rose,
Throw to the wind that blows
This way a leaf ; who knows
        What therein I can see.

And till my course is run
I’ll count them one by one—
These leaves ; and may the sun
        Of joy ne’er set on thee.

The Brass Bed

I love thy color and thy symmetry ;
I love the art that wrought thy glittering arms.
Thy canopy, thy satin portieres too ;
I love the silks and feathers on thy breast—
The cushions and the pillows and the quilts :
I love thine every part.
Yet still more do I love to rest in thee—
To dream of art’s perfection in thy frame ;
Of paths as smooth, as shining as thy limbs ;
Of scenes as exquisite as thy coils ;
Of nooks as warm as thine hospitable bosom,
As cool and as refreshing as thy veinless naked arms,
I dream of all beneath thy soothing mantle.

But O, I love my dreams much more than thee,
And one sad soul much more than all my dreams.

If thou hadst but an eye to see,
To look upon the guest that lay upon thy floor
Beneath thy silken ceiling !
O, hadst thou but an ear to hear
The plaintive chirpings of this swallow-soul.
Couldst thou but feel her forehead
Moistened with the sweat of hope and pain.
For forty moons she lay within thine arms,
Rubbing her erstwhile rosy cheeks
Against the ulcers of Ayoub of yore.
Couldst thou but see, O Bed of Brass,
Couldst thou but hear, couldst thou but feel,—

Of what use all thy showy stuff—
Thy glittering brass, the filigree of art,
Thy floor of down and feather cushions all,
Thy snow-white mantles, satin tapestries?

Beauty and Pain!
Death will not come with thee, O Pain!
Life will not come with thee, O Beauty!
The fires of hell are but a taper’s flame compared to this.

Thy guest, O Bed of Brass,
Looks on thee with a yearning glance,
And vet her soul, bearing the torch of Pain,
Is searching all the worlds for Death.

Related Poems

Allah Wa Ana

Though I’m God, thou art man, we are one,
    We are all and we shall ever be;
Though the light of my sky thou didst shun,
Thou shalt love me ere thy course is run,
    As forever I live loving thee.

Thou art mine, I am thine and the fire
    Of my breath all thy regions shall warm,
Ere the life in thy soil shall expire,
Ere the seeds of thy basest desire
    From their prison break out and take form.

Thou wilt doubt and deny me forsooth
    And rejoice in thy vanity’s power;
Thou wilt die on the breast of my truth,
In the end thou wilt laugh at thy youth,
    And its wine although old will be sour.

I was with thee when thou didst deny,
    As I am with thy mother at prayer;
I was with thee when thou didst defy
My hell and my earth and my sky,
    And I love non the less those that dare.

In the yogi’s pagoda I am;
    In the fire of the magi I was;
To the sons of Abraheem and Sham
And their foes and to thee I undam
    All the banks of my veins on the cross.

Through the spheres and the primitive throngs
    I came down and I struggled with thee;
Through the ages I sing in thy songs,
But I leave thee to rise on thy wrongs;––
    Thou shalt rise and thou shalt live in me.

The Farewell

And now it was evening.
     And Almitra the seeress said, Blessed be this day and this place and your spirit that has spoken.
     And he answered, Was it I who spoke? Was I not also a listener?

     Then he descended the steps of the Temple and all the people followed him. And he reached his ship and stood upon the deck.
     And facing the people again, he raised his voice and said:
     People of Orphalese, the wind bids me leave you.
     Less hasty am I than the wind, yet I must go.
     We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us.
     Even while the earth sleeps we travel.
     We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.

     Brief were my days among you, and briefer still the words I have spoken. But should my voice fade in your ears, and my love vanish in you memory, then I will come again,
     And with a richer heart and lips more yielding to the spirit will I speak.
     Yea, I shall return with the tide,
     And though death may hide me, and the greater silence enfold me, yet again will I seek your understanding.
     And not in vain will I seek.
     It aught I have said is truth, that truth shall reveal itself in a clearer voice, and in words more kin to your thoughts.

     I go with the wind, people of Orphalese, but not down into emptiness;
     And if this day is not a fulfilment of your needs and my love, then let it be a promise till another day.
     Man’s needs change, but not his love, nor his desire that his love should satisfy his needs.
     Know therefore, that from the greater silence I shall return.
     The mist that drifts away at dawn, leaving but dew in the fields, shall rise and gather into a cloud and then fall down in rain. 
     And not unlike the mist have I been.
     In the stillness of the night I have walked in your streets, and my spirit has entered your houses,
     And your heart-beats were in my heart, and your breath was upon my face, and I knew you all.
     Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and in your sleep your dreams were my dreams.
     And oftentimes I was among you a lake among the mountains.
     I mirrored the summits in you and the bending slopes, and even the passing flocks of your thoughts and your desires. 
     And to my silence came the laughter of your children in streams, and the longing of your youths in rivers.
     And when they reached my depth the streams and the rivers ceased not yet to sing.

     But sweeter still than laughter and greater than longing came to me.
     It was the boundless in you;
     The vast man in whom you are all but cells and sinews;
     He in whose chant all your singing is but a soundless throbbing.
     It is in the vast man that you are vast,
     And in beholding him that I beheld you and loved you.
     For what distances can love reach that are not in that vast sphere?
     What visions, what expectations and what presumptions can outsoar that flight?
     Like a giant oak tree covered with apple blossoms in the vast man in you.
     His might binds you to the earth, his fragrance lifts you into space, and in his durability you are deathless.

     You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.
     This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.
     To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.
     To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.

     Ay, you are like an ocean,
     And though heavy-grounded ships await the tide upon your shoes, yet, even like an ocean, you cannot hasten your tides.
     And like the seasons you are also,
     And though in your winter you deny your spring,
     Yet spring, reposing within you, smiles in her drowsiness and is not offended.
     Think not I say these things are in order that you may say the one to the other, “He praised us well. He saw but the good in us.”
     I only speak to you in words of that which you yourselves know in thought.
     And what is word knowledge but a shadow of wordless knowledge?
     Your thoughts and my words are waves from a sealed memory that keeps records of our yesterdays,
     And of the ancient days when the earth knew not us nor herself,
     And of nights when earth was upwrought with confusion.

     Wise men have come to you to give you of their wisdom. I came to take of your wisdom:
     And behold I have found that which is greater than wisdom.
     It is a flame spirit in you ever gathering more of itself, 
     While you, heedless of its expansion, bewail the withering of your days.
     It is life in quest of life in bodies that fear the grave.
     There are no graves here.
     These mountains and plains are a cradle and a stepping-stone.
     Whenever you pass by the field where you have laid your ancestors look well thereupon, and you shall see yourselves and your children dancing hand in hand.
     Verily you often make merry without knowing.

     Others have come to you to whom for golden promises made unto your faith you have given but riches and power and glory.
     Less than a promise have I given, and yet more generous have you been to me.
     You have given me my deeper thirsting after life.
     Surely there is no greater gift to a man than that which turns all this aims into parching lips and all life into a fountain.
     And in this lies my honour and my reward,—
     That whenever I come to the fountain to drink I find the living water itself thirsty;
     And it drinks me while I drink it.

     Some of you have deemed me proud and over-shy to receive gifts.
     Too proud indeed am I to receive wages, but not gifts.
     And though I have eaten berries among the hills when you would have had me sit at your board,
     And slept in the portico of the temple when you would gladly have sheltered me,
     Yet was it not your loving mindfulness of my days and my nights that made food sweet to my mouth and girdled my sleep with visions?

     For this I bless you most:
     You give much and know not that you give at all.
     Verily the kindness that gazes upon itself in a mirror turns to stone,
     And a good deed that calls itself by tender names becomes the parent to a curse.

     And some of you have called me aloof, and drunk with my own aloneness,
     And you have said, “He holds council with the trees of the forest but not with men.”
     He sits alone on hill-tops and looks down upon our city.”
     True it is that I have climbed the hills and walked in remote places.
     How could I have seen you save from a great height or a great distance?
     How can one be indeed near unless he be far?

     And others among you called unto me, not in words, and they said,
     “Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you among the summits where eagles build their nests?
     Why seek you the unattainable?
     What storms would you trap in your net, 
     And what vaporous birds do you hunt in the sky?
     Come and be one of us.
     Descend and appease your hunger with our bread and quench your thirst with our wine.”
     In the solitude of their souls they said these things;
     But were their solitude deeper they would have known that I sought but the secret of your joy and your pain,
     And I hunted only your larger selves that walk the sky.

     But the hunter was also the hunted;
     For many of my arrows left my bow only to seek my own breast.
     And the flier was also the creeper;
     For when my wings were spread in the sun their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.
     And I the believer was also the doubter;
     For often have I put my finger in my own wound that I might have the greater belief in you and the greater knowledge of you.

     And it is with this belief and this knowledge that I say,
     You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields.
     That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind.
     It is not a thing that crawls into the sun for warmth or digs holes into darkness for safety,
     But a thing free, a spirit that envelopes the earth and moves in the ether.

     If these be vague words, then seek not to clear them.
     Vague and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not their end,
     And I fain would have you remember me as a beginning.
     Life, and all that lives, is conceived in the mist and not in the crystal.
     And who knows but a crystal is mist in decay?

     This would I have you remember in remembering me:
     That which seems most feeble and bewildered in you is the strongest and most determined.
     Is it not your breath that has erected and hardened the structure of your bones?
     And is it not a dream which none of you remember having dreamt, that builded your city and fashioned all there is in it?
     Could you but see the tides of that breath you would cease to see all else,
     And if you could hear the whispering of the dream you would hear no other sound.

     But you do not see, nor do you hear, and it is well.
     The veil that clouds your eyes shall be lifted by the hands that wove it,
     And the clay that fills your ears shall be pierced by those fingers that kneaded it.
     And you shall see
     And you shall hear.
     Yet you shall not deplore having known blindness, nor regret having been deaf.
     For in that day you shall know the hidden purposes in all things,
     And you shall bless darkness as you would bless light.

    After saying these things he looked about him, and he saw the pilot of his ship standing by the helm and gazing now at the full sails and now at the distance. 
     And he said:
     Patient, over patient, is the captain of my ship.
     The wind blows, and restless are the sails;
     Even the rudder begs direction;
     Yet quietly my captain awaits my silence.
     And these my mariners, who have heard the choir of the greater sea, they too have heard me patiently.
     Now they shall wait no longer.
     I am ready.
     The stream has reached the sea, and once more the great mother holds her son against her breast.

     Fare you well, people of Orphalese.
     This day has ended.
     It is closing upon us even as the waterlily upon its own tomorrow
     What was given us here we shall keep,
     And it if suffices not, then again must we come together and together stretch our hands unto the giver.
     Forget not that I shall come back to you.
     A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body.
     A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.

     Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.
     It was but yesterday we met in a dream.
     You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.
     But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and it is no longer dawn.
     The noontide is upon us and our half waking has turned to fuller day, and we must part.
     If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.
     And if our hands should meet in another dream we shall build another tower in the sky.

     So saying he made a signal to the seamen, and straightway they weighed anchor and cast the ship loose from its moorings, and they moved eastward.
     And a cry came from the people as form a single heart, and it rose into the dusk and was carried our over the sea like a great trumpeting.
     Only Almitra was silent, gazing after the ship until it had vanished into the mist.
     And when all the people were dispersed she still stood alone upon the sea-wall, remembering in her heart his saying,

     “A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.”


For days, weeks at a time, i lose whatever it is
which keeps my senses softened to the sentience of the earth,
to hillside grass running lightly before a silver wind
or a far slope rippling like a muscled shoulder
or how the gradine, faceted pebbles under me will rasp
as i ease in closer, resting my back
against the rough-skinned body of a gliricidia.

All this can suddenly go without a hint
like a room slips into darkness with a passing cloud—
except, i don't know how,
it happens with no slippage of the sense of self.
On drizzled mornings, when a silver fluttering beats to a white rush down the hills,
i can believe that seraphs bear the rain to us.
By afternoon, wind has lost color, stones are exactly stones,
the green ascending hill has stiffened into a surveyor's gradient.
The names by which i used to call the earth to come to me
have hardened in my mouth to scabs.

Who was it then who saw the wings of seraphs?
And who is looking now, squinting with eyes of quartz?
i want to understand how, inhabitants of the same life,
they do not know each other, they have never met;
how, looking out of the same windows, they see different worlds.
i want to find a way that they may see each other.
i want them—the glint-eyed one of rationed sight,
       the other, dream blinded even in the day's light—
to meet and in that meeting learn a threefold vision
that hopefully i may translate into new lines of language,
lines braided from their voices and my own speaking together,
an utterance which, if even for the duration of only a few words,
will speak our earth original again into creation.