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American Annals of the Deaf

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Sweet Bells Jangled

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XVI.

DRIFTING APART.

Out of sight of the heated land,
     Over the breezy sea ;
Into the reach of the solemn mist,
     Quietly drifted we.

The sky was blue as a baby’s eye
     When it falleth apart in sleep,
And soft as the touch of its wandering hand,
     The swell of the peaceful deep.

Hovered all day in our sluggish wake
     The wonderful petrel’s wing,―
Following, following, ever afar,
     Like the love of a human thing.

The day crept out at the purple west,
     Dowered with glories rare ;
Never a sight and never a sound
     To startle the dreamy air.

The mist behind me and the mist before,
     But light in the purple west,
Until we wearied to turn aside
     And drift to its haunted rest.

But the mist was behind ; and the mist before
     Rose up like a changeless fate ;
And we turned our faces toward the dark.
     And drearily said, “Too Late!”

So, with foreheads fronting the far-off south,
     We drifted into the mist,
Turning away from the glorious west’s
     Purple and amethyst.

For the sea and the sky met everywhere,
     Like the strength of an evil hate,
And a thunder-cloud came out of the west,
     And guarded the sunset gate.

Thou art in the royal, radiant land
     That stretcheth across the sea,
And the drifting hours of each weary day
     Take me further from thee !

XVII.

HALF AWAKE.

Sleep ravished me from pain, and laid a hand
     Cool, quiet, and heavy on my smarting eyelids !
My soul fled from the clamors of the land,
     Nor heard the distant portals close behind it.

When I awoke, the brightness of the day
     Had slipped from the green earth’s tranquil visage ;
And in my darkened room I freshened lay,
     And Ease had wrapped me in its welcome mantle

Befringed with cheerful thoughts, and fancies sweet
     That it had gathered in the realm of visions,
Whilst I therein had walked with soundless feet
     Over pale asphodels and poppies crimson.

Sometimes a lone bird in its darkened nest
     Makes broken twittering before the dawning.
Perhaps a leaf, wind-stirred, has brushed its breast,
     But its faint chirps are for its absent comrade.

Thuswise my heart lay half awake in me,
     Before the mist of dreams had faded wholly,
And, stirred by half-reminders, groped for thee,
     With drowsy calls and murmurous cries unworded!


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