4i. Hymn to Intellectual Beauty.
1. The awful shadow of some unseen Power Floats though unseen among us — visiting This various world with as inconstant wing
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,
Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance
Each human heart and countenance;
Like hues and harmonies of evening,
Like clouds in starlight widely spread,
Like memory of music fied,
Like aught that for its grace may be
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.
2. Spirit of Beauty, that dost consecrate
With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon
Of human thought or form — where art thou gone?
Why dost thou pass away and leave our state,
This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?
Ask why the sunlight not for ever
Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain-river,
Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown,
Why fear and dream and death and birth
Cast on the daylight of this earth
Such gloom, — why man has such a scope
For love and hate, despondency and hope?
3. No voice from some sublimer world hath ever To sage or poet these responses given — Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven, Remain the records of their vain endeavour,
Trail spells — whose uttered charm might not avail to sever From all we hear and all we see Doubt, chance and mutability.
Thy light alone — like mists o'er mountains driven,
Or music by the night-wind sent
Through strings of some still instrument,
Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.