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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald

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gloomy and a windy day!
No sunny spot is bare;

Dull vapours, in uncomely play,

Go weltering through the air:

If through the windows of my mind

I let them come and go,

My thoughts will also in the wind

Sweep restless to and fro.

drop my curtains for a dream.-- What comes? A mighty swan,

With plumage like a sunny gleam,

And folded airy van!

She comes, from sea-plains dreaming, sent

By sea-maids to my shore,

With stately head proud-humbly bent,

And slackening swarthy oar.

Lone in a vaulted rock I lie,

A water-hollowed cell,

Where echoes of old storms go by,

Like murmurs in a shell.

The waters half the gloomy way

Beneath its arches come;

Throbbing to outside billowy play,

The green gulfs waver dumb.

Undawning twilights through the cave

In moony glimmers go,

Half from the swan above the wave,

Half from the swan below,

As to my feet she gently drifts

Through dim, wet-shiny things,

And, with neck low-curved backward, lifts

The shoulders of her wings.

Old earth is rich with many a nest

Of softness ever new,

Deep, delicate, and full of rest--

But loveliest there are two:

may not tell them save to minds That are as white as they;

But none will hear, of other kinds--

They all are turned away.

On foamy mounds between the wings

Of a white sailing swan,

flaky bed of shelterings, There you will find the one.

The other--well, it will not out,

Nor need I tell it you;

I've told you one, and can you doubt,

When there are only two?

Fill full my dream, O splendid bird!

Me o'er the waters bear:

Never was tranquil ocean stirred

By ship so shapely fair!

Nor ever whiteness found a dress

In which on earth to go,

So true, profound, and rich, unless

It was the falling snow!

Her wings, with flutter half-aloft,

Impatient fan her crown;

cannot choose but nestle soft Into the depth of down.

With oary-pulsing webs unseen,

Out the white frigate sweeps;

In middle space we hang, between

The air- and ocean-deeps.

Up the wave's mounting, flowing side,

With stroke on stroke we rack;

As down the sinking slope we slide,

She cleaves a talking track--

Like heather-bells on lonely steep,

Like soft rain on the glass,

Like children murmuring in their sleep,

Like winds in reedy grass.

Her white breast heaving like a wave,

She beats the solemn time;

With slow strong sweep, intent and grave,

Hearkens the ripples rime.

All round, from flat gloom upward drawn,

I catch the gleam, vague, wide,

With which the waves, from dark to dawn,

Heave up the polished side.

The night is blue; the stars aglow

Crowd the still, vaulted steep,

Sad o'er the hopeless, restless flow

Of the self-murmurous deep--

thicker night, with gathered moan! A dull dethroned sky!

The shadows of its stars alone

Left in to know it by!

What faints across yon lifted loop

Where the west gleams its last?

With sea-veiled limbs, a sleeping group

Of Nereids dreaming past.

Row on, fair swan;--who knows but I,

Ere night hath sought her cave,

May see in splendour pale float by

The Venus of the wave!

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