On that last night before we went
      From out the doors where I was bred,
      I dream'd a vision of the dead,
Which left my after-morn content.

Methought I dwelt within a hall,
      And maidens with me: distant hills
      From hidden summits fed with rills
A river sliding by the wall.

The hall with harp and carol rang.
      They sang of what is wise and good
      And graceful. In the centre stood
A statue veil'd, to which they sang;

And which, tho' veil'd, was known to me,
      The shape of him I loved, and love
      For ever: then flew in a dove
And brought a summons from the sea:

And when they learnt that I must go
      They wept and wail'd, but led the way
      To where a little shallop lay
At anchor in the flood below;

And on by many a level mead,
      And shadowing bluff that made the banks,
      We glided winding under ranks
Of iris, and the golden reed;

And still as vaster grew the shore
      And roll'd the floods in grander space,
      The maidens gather'd strength and grace
And presence, lordlier than before;

And I myself, who sat apart
      And watch'd them, wax'd in every limb;
      I felt the thews of Anakim,
The pulses of a Titan's heart;

As one would sing       And one would chant the history
      Of that great race, which is to be,
And one the shaping of a star;

Until the forward-creeping tides
      Began to foam, and we to draw
      From deep to deep, to where we saw
A great ship lift her shining sides.

The man we loved was there on deck,
      But thrice as large as man he bent
      To greet us. Up the side I went,
And fell in silence on his neck;

Whereat those maidens with one mind
      Bewail'd their lot; I did them wrong:
      "We served thee here," they said, "so long,
And wilt thou leave us now behind?"

So rapt I was, they could not win
      An answer from my lips, but he
      Replying, "Enter likewise ye
And go with us:" they enter'd in.

And while the wind began to sweep
      A music out of sheet and shroud,
      We steer'd her toward a crimson cloud
That landlike slept along the deep.


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Last modified 19 February 2010