THIS was my dream: I saw a Forest
Old as the earth, no track nor trace
Of unmade man. Thou, Soul, explorest--
Though in a trembling rapture--space
Immeasurable! Shrubs, turned trees,
Trees that touch heaven, support its frieze
Studded with sun and moon and star:
While--oh, the enormous growths that bar
Mine eye from penetrating past
Their tangled twine where lurks--nay, lives
Royally lone, some brute-type cast
I' the rough, time cancels, man forgives.
On, Soul! I saw a lucid City
Of architectural device
Every way perfect. Pause for pity,
Lightning! nor leave a cicatrice
On those bright marbles, dome and spire,
Structures palatial,--streets which mire
Dares not defile, paved all too fine
For human footstep's smirch, not thine--
Proud solitary traverser,
My Soul, of silent lengths of way--
With what ecstatic dread, aver,
Lest life start sanctioned by the stay!
Ah, but the last sight was the hideous!
A City, yes,--a Forest, true,--
But each devouring each. Perfidious
Snake-plants had strangled what I knew
Was a pavilion once: each oak
Held on his horns some spoil he broke
By surreptitiously beneath
Upthrusting: pavements, as with teeth,
Griped huge weed widening crack and split
In squares and circles stone-work erst.
Oh, Nature--good! Oh, Art--no whit
Less worthy! Both in one--accurst!