SHADOWS AND LIGHTS
What gods have met in battle to arouse
This whirling shadow of invisible things,
These hosts that writhe amid the shattered sods?
O Father, and O Mother of the gods,
Is there some trouble in the heavenly house?
We who are captained by its unseen kings
Wonder what thrones are shaken in the skies,
What powers who held dominion o’er our will
Let fall the sceptre, and what destinies
The younger gods may drive us to fulfil.
Have they not swayed us, earth’s invisible lords,
With whispers and with breathings from the dark?
The very border stones of nations mark
Where silence swallowed some wild prophet’s words
That rang but for an instant and were still,
Yet were so burthened with eternity,
They maddened all who heard to work their will,
To raise the lofty temple on the hill,
And many a glittering thicket of keen swords
Flashed out to make one law for land and sea,
That earth might move with heaven in company.
The cities that to myriad beauty grew
Were altars raised unto old gods who died,
And they were sacrificed in ruins to
The younger gods who took their place of pride;
They have no brotherhood, the deified,
No high companionship of throne by throne,
But will their beauty still to be alone.
What is a nation but a multitude
United by some god-begotten mood,
Some hope of liberty or dream of power
That have not with each other brotherhood
But warred in spirit from their natal hour,
Their hatred god-begotten as their love,
Reverberations of eternal strife?
For all that fury breathed in human life,
Are ye not guilty, ye above?
Ah, no, the circle of the heavenly ones,
That ring of burning, grave, inflexible powers,
Array in harmony amid the deep
The shining legionaries of the suns,
That through their day from dawn to twilight keep
The peace of heaven, and have no feuds like ours.
The Morning Stars their labours of the dawn
Close at the advent of the Solar Kings,
And these with joy their sceptres yield, withdrawn
When the still Evening Stars begin their reign,
And twilight time is thrilled with homing wings
To the All-Father being turned again.
No, not on high begin divergent ways,
The galaxies of interlinkèd lights
Rejoicing on each other’s beauty gaze,
‘Tis we who do make errant all the rays
That stream upon us from the astral heights.
Love in our thickened air too redly burns;
And unto vanity our beauty turns;
Widsom, that softly whispers us to part
From evil, swells to hatred in the heart.
Dark is the shadow of invisible things
On us who look not up, whose vision fails.
The glorious shining of the heavenly kings
To mould us to their image naught avails,
They weave a robe of many-coloured fire
To garb the spirits moving in the deep,
And in the upper air its splendours keep
Pure and unsullied, but below it trails
Darkling and glimmering in our earthly mire.
Our eyes are ever earthwards. We are swayed
But by the shadows of invisible light,
And shadow against shadow is arrayed
So that one dark may dominate the night.
Though kinsmen are the lights that cast the shade,
We look not up, nor see how, side by side,
The high originals of all our pride
In crowned and sceptred brotherhood are throned,
Compassionate of our blindness and our hate
That own the godship but the love disowned.
Ah, let us for a little while abate
The outward roving eye, and seek within
Where spirit unto spirit is allied;
There, in our inmost being, we may win
The joyful vision of the heavenly wise
To see the beauty in each other’s eyes.