Before Sleep Comes


Where do you float from, visions that shine ere sleep
Subdues with leaden law
The dancing fires of the brain?–In a shadowy land,
As a king from a tower I saw.

There came startled gazelles, beautifully leaping,
Delicate–hoofed: they were gone,
And the red pomegranate showered its petalled bloom
On the glittering stream alone.

I saw the dust on an Indian plain, and a grove
Where pilgrims went in white:
I saw the mountains, throned upon purple air,
Remote in sculptured light.

And I saw the broadening beams of the early sun
On the pale Pacific melt,
And naked fishermen, idly rocked in a boat;
Their briny nets I smelt.

I saw amid Asian deserts a bed of reeds,
And a heron slowly rose
To the cloud from wild reeds blown by a wind that came
From a land no man yet knows.

And I watched a tall ship gliding out of the mist
By a snow–seamed iron cape.
The smoky wraiths clung round her, but on she stemmed,
Self–willed, a wing–bright shape.

Then all fell dark. Yet still in a trance elate,
And strange to myself I lay.
Here was the black, soft stillness: but where was I?
Far away, far away.

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