Irish Nationalist, Mystical Writer, Editor, Critic, Poet and Painter
George William Russell
Irish Nationalist, Mystical Writer, Editor, Critic, Poet and Painter
You assumed that no other guarantees than those you asked were possible, and you determined deliberately, in cold anger, to starve out one third of the population of the city, to break the manhood of the men by the sight of the suffering of their wives and the hunger of their children. We read in the Dark Ages of the rack and thumb screw. But these iniquities were hidden and concealed from the knowledge of men in dungeons and torture chambers. Even in the Dark Ages, humanity could not endure the sight of such suffering, and it learnt of such misuse of power by slow degrees, through rumor, and when it was certain it razed its Bastilles to their foundations. It remained for the twentieth century and the capital city of Ireland to see an oligarchy of four hundred masters deciding openly upon starving one hundred thousand people, and refusing to consider any solution except that fixed by their pride. You, masters, asked men to do that which masters of labor in any other city in these islands had not dared to do. You insolently demanded of those men who were members of a trade union that they should resign from that union; and from those who were not members, you insisted on a vow that they would never join it.
You can't evoke great spirits and eat plums at the same time.
You who have died on Eastern hills or fields of France as undismayed, who lit with interlinked wills the long heroic barricade, you, too, in all the dreams you had, thought of something for Ireland done.
What of all the will to do? It has vanished long ago, for a dream-shaft pierced it through from the Unknown Archer's bow.
You would have understood me, had you waited; I could have loved you, dear! as well as he: had we not been impatient, dear! and fated always to disagree. What is the use of speech? Silence were fitter: lest we should still be wishing things unsaid. Though all the words we ever spake were bitter, shall I reproach you, dead? Nay, let this earth, your portion, likewise cover all the old anger, setting us apart: always, in all, in truth was I your lover; always, I held your heart. I have met other women who were tender, as you were cold, dear! with a grace as rare. Think you, I turned to them, or made surrender, I who had found you fair? Late, late, I come to you, now death discloses Love that in life was not to be our part: on your low lying mound between the roses, sadly I cast my heart.
Whatever time thy golden eyelids ope they travel to a hope; not only backward from these low degrees to starry dynasties, but, looking far where now the silence owns and rules from empty thrones, thou seest the enchanted halls of heaven burn for joy at our return.
Your insolence and ignorance of the rights conceded to workers universally in the modern world were incredible, and as great as your inhumanity. If you had between you collectively a portion of human soul as large as a three-penny bit, you would have sat night and day with the representatives of labor, trying this or that solution of the trouble, mindful of the women and children, who at least were innocent of wrong against you. But no! You reminded labor you could always have your three square meals a day while it went hungry.
When he wakes, the dreamy-hearted, he will know not whence he came, and the light from which he parted be the seraph's sword of flame, and behind it hosts supernal guarding the lost paradise, and the tree of life eternal from the weeping human eyes.
When I first discovered for myself how near was the King in His beauty I thought I would be the singer of the happiest songs. Forgive me, Spirit of my spirit, for this, that I have found it easier to read the mystery told in tears and understood Thee better in sorrow than in joy; that, though I would not, I have made the way seem thorny, and have wandered in too many byways, imagining myself into moods which held Thee not. I should have parted the true from the false, but I have not yet passed away from myself who am in the words of this book. Time is a swift winnower, and that he will do quickly for me.
When steam first began to pump and wheels go round at so many revolutions per minute, what are called business habits were intended to make the life of man run in harmony with the steam engine, and his movement rival the train in punctuality.
When the breath of twilight blows to flame the misty skies, all its vaporous sapphire, violet glow, and silver gleam, with their magic flood me through the gateway of the eyes; I am one with the twilight's dream.
When the lips I breathed upon asked for such love as equals claim I looked where all the stars were gone burned in the day's immortal flame. "Come thou like yon great dawn to me from darkness vanquished, battles done: flame unto flame shall flow and be within thy heart and mine as one.".
Where the ring of twilight gleams round the sanctuary wrought, whispers haunt me — in my dreams we are one yet know it not. Some for beauty follow long flying traces; some there be seek thee only for a song: I to lose myself in thee.
Where was the beauty that the Lord gave man when first he towered in pride? But one came by me at whose word the bitter condemnation died. His brows were crowned with thorns of light: his eyes were bright as one who sees the starry palaces shine o'er the sparkle of the heavenly seas. 'Is it not beautiful?' he cried. Our Faery Land of Hearts' Desire is mingled through the mire and mist, yet stainless keeps its lovely fire. The pearly phantoms with blown hair are dancing where the drunkards reel: the cloud frail daffodils shine out where filth is splashing from the heel. O sweet, and sweet, and sweet to hear, the melodies in rivers run: the rapture of their crowded notes is yet the myriad voice of One.
Where we sat at dawn together, while the star-rich heavens shifted, we were weaving dreams in silence, suddenly the veil was lifted. By a hand of fire awakened, in a moment caught and led upward to the wondrous vision: through the star-mists overhead flare and flaunt the monstrous highlands; on the sapphire coast of night fall the ghostly froth and fringes of the ocean of the light.
Whispering between the beatings of the heart, and inaccessible in dewy eyes I dwell, and all unkissed on lovely lips, lingering between white breasts inviolate, and fleeting ever from the passionate touch, I shine afar, till men may not divine whether it is the stars or the beloved they follow with wrapt spirit.
Who is that goddess to whom men should pray but her from whom their hearts have turned away, out of whose virgin being they were born, whose mother nature they have named in scorn calling its holy substance common clay. Yet from this so despised earth was made the milky whiteness of those queens who swayed their generations with a light caress, and from some image of whose loveliness the heart built up high heaven when it prayed.
Who would think this quiet breather from the world had taken flight? Yet within the form we see there wakes the golden King to-night.
I saw how all the trembling ages past, molded to her by deep and deeper breath, neared to the hour when Beauty breathes her last and knows herself in death.
Nearer to Thee, not by delusion led, though there no house fires burn nor bright eyes gaze, we rise, but by the symbol charioted, through loved things rising up to Love's own ways by these the soul unto the vast has wings and sets the seal celestial on all mortal things.
Silence and coolness now the earth enfold: jewels of glittering green, long mists of gold, hazes of nebulous silver veil the height, and shake in tremors through the shadowy night. Heard through the stillness, as in whispered words, the wandering God-guided wings of birds ruffle the dark. The little lives that lie deep hid in grass join in a long-drawn sigh more softly still; and unheard through the blue the falling of innumerable dew, lifts with grey fingers all the leaves that lay burned in the heat of the consuming day.
The wonder of the world is o'er: the magic from the sea is gone: there is no unimagined shore, no islet yet to venture on. The Sacred Hazels' blooms are shed, the Nuts of Knowledge harvested. Oh, what is worth this lore of age if time shall never bring us back our battle with the gods to wage reeling along the starry track. The battle rapture here goes by in warring upon things that die. The power is ours to make or mar our fate as on the earliest morn, the Darkness and the Radiance are creatures within the spirit born. Yet, bathed in gloom too long, we might forget how we imagined light. Not yet are fixed the prison bars: the hidden light the spirit owns if blown to flame would dim the stars and they who rule them from their thrones: and the proud sceptred spirits thence would bow to pay us reverence.
We loved in infinite spaces, forgetting here the breasts that were lit with life and the lips so near; till the wizard willows waved in the wind and drew me away from the fulness of love and down to you.
I sometimes think a mighty lover takes every burning kiss we give: his lights are those which round us hover: for him alone our lives we live.
Not unremembering we pass our exile from the starry ways: one timeless hour in time we caught from the long night of endless days.