EPILOGUE 1908 by Christopher Brennan

The droning tram swings westward: shrill
the wire sings overhead, and chill
midwinter draughts rattle the glass
that shows the dusking way I pass
to yon four turreted square tower
that still exalts the golden hour
where youth, initiate once, endears
a treasure richer with the years.

Dim-seen, the upper stories fleet along the twisting shabby street; beneath, the shop-fronts' cover'd ways bask in their lampions' orange blaze, or stare phantasmal, weirdly new, in the electrics' ghastly blue: and, up and down, I see them go, along the windows pleas'd and slow but hurrying where the darkness falls, the city's drift of pavement thralls whom the poor pleasures of the street lure from their niggard homes, to meet and mix, unknown, and feel the bright banality 'twixt them and night: so, in my youth, I saw them flit where their delusive dream was lit; so now I see them, and can read the urge of their unwitting need one with my own, however dark, and questing towards one mother-ark. But, past the gin-shop's ochrous flare, sudden, a gap of quiet air and gather'd dark, where, set a pace beyond the pavement's coiling race and mask'd by bulk of sober leaves, the plain obtruncate chancel heaves, whose lancet-windows faintly show suffusion of a ruddy glow, the lamp of adoration, dim and rich with unction kept for Him whom Bethlehem's manger first made warm, the sweetest god in human form, love's prisoner in the Eucharist, man's pleading, patient amorist: and there the sacring laver stands where I was brought in pious hands, a chrisom-child, that I might be accepted of that company who, thro' their journeying, behold beyond the apparent heavens, controu'd to likeness of a candid rose, ascending where the gold heart glows, cirque within cirque, the blessed host, their kin, their comfort, and their boast.
With them I walk'd in love and awe till I was ware of that grim maw and lazar-pit that reek'd beneath: what outcast howlings these? what teeth gnashing in vain? and was that bliss whose counter-hemisphere was this? and could it be, when times fulfill'd had made the tally of either guild, that this mid-world, dredgd clean in both, should no more bar their gruesome troth? So from beneath that choiring tent I stepp'd, and tho' my spirit's bent was dark to me as yet, I sought a sphere appeas'd and undistraught; and found viaticum and goal in that hard atom of the soul, that final grain of deathless mind, which Satan's watch-fiends shall not find nor the seven mills of darkness bruise, for all permission to abuse; stubborn, yet, if one seek aright, translucent all within and bright with sheen that bath no paradigm, not where our proud Golcondas brim, tho' sky and sea and leaf and flower, in each rare mood of virtual power, sleep in their gems' excepted day: and so, nor long, the guarded ray broke on my eagerness, who brought the lucid diamond-probe of thought and, driving it behind, the extreme blind vehemence of travailing dream against the inhibitory shell: and found, no grim eternal cell and presence of the shrouded Norn, but Eden, clad in nuptial mom, young, fair, and radiant with delight remorse nor sickness shall requite.
Yes, Eden was my own, my bride; whatever malices denied, faithful and found again, nor long absent from aura of wooing song: but promis'd only, while the sun must travel yet thro' times undone; and life must guard the prize of youth, and thought must steward into truth the mines of magian ore divined in rich Cipangos of the mind: and I, that made my high attempt no bliss whence any were exempt, their fellow-pilgrim, I must greet these listless captives of the street, these fragments of an orphan'd drift whose dower was our mother's thrift, and, tho' they know it not, have care of what would be their loving prayer if skill bestow'd might,help them heed their craving for the simple meed to be together in the light when loneliness and dark incite: long is the way till we are met where Eden pays her hoarded debt and we are orb'd in her, and she hath still'd her hungering to be, with plentitude beyond impeach, single, distinct, and whole in each: and many anevening hour shall bring the dark crowd's dreary loitering to me who pass and see the tale of all my striving, bliss or bale, dated from either spire that strives clear of the shoal of shiftless lives, and promise, in all years' despite, fidelity to old delight.

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