Robert Falconer

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I woke at midnight, and my heart,
My beating heart said this to me:
Thou seest the moon how calm and bright The world is fair by day and night, But what is that to thee?
One touch to me--down dips the light Over the land and sea.
All is mine, all is my own!
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone; I am alive, I, only I!

One little touch and all is dark;
The winter with its sparkling moons The spring with all her violets,
The crimson dawns and rich sunsets, The autumn's yellowing noons.
I only toss my purple jets,
And thou art one that swoons
Upon a night of gust and roar,
Shipwrecked among the waves, and seems Across the purple hills to roam;
Sweet odours touch him from the foam, And downward sinking still he dreams He walks the clover field at home, And hears the rattling teams.
All is mine; all is my own!
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone; I am alive, I, only I!

Thou hast beheld a throated fountain spout Full in the air, and in the downward spray A hovering Iris span the marble tank, Which as the wind came, ever rose and sank Violet and red; so my continual play Makes beauty for the Gods with many a prank Of human excellence, while they,
Weary of all the noon, in shadows sweet Supine and heavy-eyed rest in the boundless heat: Let the world's fountain play!
Beauty is pleasant in the eyes of Jove; Betwixt the wavering shadows where he lies He marks the dancing column with his eyes Celestial, and amid his inmost grove Upgathers all his limbs, serenely blest, Lulled by the mellow noise of the great world's unrest.

One heart beats in all nature, differing But in the work it works; its doubts and clamours Are but the waste and brunt of instruments Wherewith a work is done; or as the hammers On forge Cyclopean plied beneath the rents Of lowest Etna, conquering into shape The hard and scattered ore:
Choose thou narcotics, and the dizzy grape Outworking passion, lest with horrid crash Thy life go from thee in a night of pain. So tutoring thy vision, shall the flash Of dove white-breasted be to thee no more Than a white stone heavy upon the plain.

Hark the cock crows loud!
And without, all ghastly and ill,
Like a man uplift in his shroud,
The white white morn is propped on the hill; And adown from the eaves, pointed and chill, The icicles 'gin to glitter;
And the birds with a warble short and shrill, Pass by the chamber-window still-- With a quick uneasy twitter.
Let me pump warm blood, for the cold is bitter; And wearily, wearily, one by one,
Men awake with the weary sun.

Life is a phantom shut in thee;
I am the master and keep the key;
So let me toss thee the days of old, Crimson and orange and green and gold; So let me fill thee yet again
With a rush of dreams from my spout amain; For all is mine; all is my own;
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone; And I am alive, I, only I.

Robert having read, sat and wept in silence. Ericson saw him, and said tenderly,

'Robert, my boy, I'm not always so bad as that. Read this one--though I never feel like it now. Perhaps it may come again some day, though. I may once more deceive myself and be happy.'

'Dinna say that, Mr. Ericson. That's waur than despair. That's flat unbelief. Ye no more ken that ye're deceivin' yersel' than ye ken that ye're no doin' 't.'

Ericson did not reply; and Robert read the following sonnet aloud,
feeling his way delicately through its mazes:--

Lie down upon the ground, thou hopeless one! Press thy face in the grass, and do not speak. Dost feel the green globe whirl? Seven times a week Climbeth she out of darkness to the sun, Which is her god; seven times she doth not shun Awful eclipse, laying her patient cheek Upon a pillow ghost-beset with shriek Of voices utterless which rave and run Through all the star-penumbra, craving light And tidings of the dawn from East and West. Calmly she sleepeth, and her sleep is blest With heavenly visions, and the joy of Night Treading aloft with moons. Nor hath she fright Though cloudy tempests beat upon her breast.

Ericson turned his face to the wall, and Robert withdrew to his own chamber.

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