All we upon this earth are flooded round
By blinding sunbeams of Reality,
And yet our vision’s by our weakness bound,
So none takes in their blaze entirely.
But each receives some part, and we must work
To share the light among us as we may,
Burn off deceit and all confusion’s murk,
Pour forth the Truth, a white-gold noontime ray.
So we reflect it with small plates of glass,
And we call words these mirrors that we wield,
Given to us that we might freely pass
The beams in wisdom through thought’s motley field.
Then, with these words, a strange enchanting art
May turn them to reflect another way,
Beaming realities into the heart
By casting keener lights in subtle play,
An indirect beam, aimed at spirit’s sight,
A message in the language of the soul,
And we call verse this deep ecstatic light,
This piercing vision of the unseen whole.
In thoughtfulness and beauty it reveals
The knowledge that eludes our mundane speech,
Things every human heart by instinct feels,
But, while we think in prose, stay out of reach.
We plainly see the way a ship’s designed,
Of wood or iron, moved by fuel or sails,
But in poetic light, we further find
That it plows over dim and flooded vales
Like some magician’s chariot through the sky,
Yet wobbles there, fragile uncertain guest
Skirting a world’s surface, humble and shy,
In water-realms a little human nest;
Yet bravely it traverses the abyss
As if to leave the very world behind—
Contemplative reflections such as this
In everything a poem’s light can find.
Then let us use it to make bright and plain
The glory that all things hold deep in store,
And give the lie to those who would maintain
Our world is chemicals and nothing more.
To catch the rarest lights, let us arrange
Our words exquisitely, as if in dance,
Nor garble them into disorder strange
In shallow hope to startle some stray glance.
And if we use it with all care and grace,
Its power may burn through our spirits’ eyes
A light from high beyond the depths of space,
And leave us thankful, and a bit more wise.