The Reef

My green aquarium of phantom fish,
   Goggling in on me through the misty panes;
   My rotting leaves and fields spongy with rains;
   My few clear quiet autumn days—I wish
   I could leave all, clearness and mistiness;
   Sodden or goldenly crystal, all too still.
   Yes, and I too rot with the leaves that fill
   The hollows in the woods; I am grown less
   Than human, listless, aimless as the green
   Idiot fishes of my aquarium,
   Who loiter down their dim tunnels and come
   And look at me and drift away, nought seen
   Or understood, but only glazedly
   Reflected. Upwards, upwards through the shadows,
   Through the lush sponginess of deep-sea meadows
   Where hare-lipped monsters batten, let me ply
   Winged fins, bursting this matrix dark to find
Jewels and movement, mintage of sunlight
   Scattered largely by the profuse wind,
   And gulfs of blue brightness, too deep for sight.
   Free, newly born, on roads of music and air
   Speeding and singing, I shall seek the place
   Where all the shining threads of water race,
   Drawn in green ropes and foamy meshes. There,
   On the red fretted ramparts of a tower
   Of coral rooted in the depths, shall break
   An endless sequence of joy and speed and power:
   Green shall shatter to foam; flake with white flake
   Shall create an instant’s shining constellation
   Upon the blue; and all the air shall be
   Full of a million wings that swift and free
   Laugh in the sun, all power and strong elation.
   Yes, I shall seek that reef, which is beyond
   All isles however magically sleeping
   In tideless seas, uncharted and unconned
   Save by blind eyes; beyond the laughter and weeping
   That brood like a cloud over the lands of men.
   Movement, passion of colour and pure wings,
   Curving to cut like knives—these are the things
   I search for:—passion beyond the ken
   Of our foiled violences, and, more swift
   Than any blow which man aims against time,
   The invulnerable, motion that shall rift
   All dimness with the lightning of a rhyme,
   Or note, or colour. And the body shall be
   Quick as the mind; and will shall find release
   From bondage to brute things; and joyously
   Soul, will and body, in the strength of triune peace,
   Shall live the perfect grace of power unwasted.
   And love consummate, marvellously blending
   Passion and reverence in a single spring
   Of quickening force, till now never yet tasted,
   But ever ceaselessly thirsted for, shall crown
   The new life with its ageless starry fire.
   I go to seek that reef, far down, far down
   Below the edge of everyday’s desire,
   Beyond the magical islands, where of old
   I was content, dreaming, to give the lie
   To misery. They were all strong and bold
   That thither came; and shall I dare to try?
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