The Testimony of the Suns
To Whom the unceasing suns belong,
- And cause is one with consequence,--
- To Whose divine inclusive sense
The moan is blended with the song.
The winter sunset fronts the North. . . .
- The light deserts the quiet sky. . . .
- From their far gates how silently
The stars of evening tremble forth!
Time, to thy sight what peace they share
- On Night's inviolable breast!
- Remote in solitudes of rest,
Afar from human change or care.
Eternity, unto thine eyes
- In war's unrest their legions surge,
- Form of the cosmic tides that urge
The battle of contending skies,
The war whose waves of onslaught, met
- Where night's abysses storm afar,
- Break on the high, tremendous bar
Athwart that central ocean set--
From seas whose cyclic ebb and sweep,
- Unseen to Life's oblivious hours,
- Are ostent of the changeless Pow'rs
That hold dominion of the Deep.
O armies of eternal night,
- How flame your guidons on the dark!
- Silent we turn from Time to hark
What final Orders sway your might.
Cold from colossal ramparts gleam,
- At their insuperable posts,
- The seven princes of the hosts
Who guard the holy North supreme;
Who watch the phalanxes remote
- That, gathered in opposing skies,
- Far on the southern wastes arise,
Marshalled by flaming Fomalhaut.
Altair, what captains compass thee?
- What foes, Aldebaran, are thine?
- Red with what blood of wars divine
Glows that immortal panoply?
What music from Capella runs?
- How hold the Pleiades their bond?
- How storms the hidden war beyond
Orion's dreadful sword of suns?
When, on what hostile firmament,
- Shall stars unnamed contend our gyre,
- 'Mid councils of Bootes' fire,
Or night of Vega's fury spent?
What tidings of the heavenly fray?
- These, as our sages nightward turn
- To gaze within the gulfs where burn
The helms of that sublime array:
Splendors of elemental strife;
- Smit suns that startle back the gloom;
- New light whose tale of stellar doom
Fares to uncomprehending life;
Profounds of fire whose maelstroms froth
- To gathered armies of offense;
- Cohorts unweariable, immense,
And bulks wherewith the Dark is wroth;
Reserves and urgencies of light
- That flame upon the battle's path,
- And allied suns that brave the wrath
Of systems leagued athwart the night;
Menace of silent ranks that sweep
- Unto irrevocable wars,
- And onset of titanic cars
In Armageddons of the Deep!
Deem we their enginery was not,
- Far in the dim, eternal past?
- Deem we eternity at last
Will find their thunders unbegot?
How haste the unresting feet of Change,
- On life's stupendous orbit set!
- She walks a way her blood hath wet,
Yet deems her path untrodden, strange.
By night's immeasureable dome
- She deems her hopes in surety held--
- Lo! from insurgent deeps impelled
The fleeting systems lapse like foam.
Unshared she deems the kindred skies;
- But runic gulf and star proclaim
- (Archival gloom, prophetic flame)
The immutable infinities:
Vague on the night the mist we mark
- That tells where met the random suns:
- In changeless molds of law it runs
To orbs that roam anew the dark,
And unto which the worlds are born,
- Where Life awakes to know again
- The light of stars, caress of rain,
And winds of the forgotten morn.
Lift up, ye everlasting gates
- Whence fare her feet to wars unknown,
- To heights august of Reason's throne,
And heritage of ampler Fates!
When she, the mindless clay no more
- In Lust's or Fear's potential hands,
- Shall range her uncontested lands
Or sister world's befriending shore.
Till lapse her beatific years
- In emperies of art untold,
- The music of her age of gold
Requiting for unnumbered tears;
Till she behold -- the visual boon
- Surviving elemental risk --
- The nearing sun's enormous disc,
Blood-red at dusk of sullen noon;
Till her appointed course be run;
- Till on the darkness faint her breath,
- Flown to the silent void, and Death
Sit crowned upon the ashen sun.
Till sun and sun be met at last
- In warfare that annuls the night,
- When sea and mountain start to light,
Pyres of the sacrificial past,
Dim veils of fire, O world! that were
- The stubborn bastions of thy frame,
- And reaches of abysmal flame
Wherein thy spectral oceans stir--
A mist upon the vassal skies
- Gyrant to Betelgeuse--a flare
- Upon the midnights round Altair--
A portent to barbaric eyes.
O dread and strong Eternity!
- Prickt in an instant of thy clime,
- The bubble of Antares' time
Is one with thine unchanging sea.
Ever the star, unstable, frames
- Her transitory throne of fire,
- But in thy sight how soon expire,
How soon recur, the inviolate flames!--
Throbs of the fitful sun that are
- Unto thine amplitude of sight,
- Even as the quick unrest of light
That stirs, to mortal sense, the star.
What silence rules the ghostly hours
- That guard the close of human sleep!
- Aldebaran crowns the western deep;
Belted with suns Orion tow'rs,
And greaved with light of worlds destroyed,
- And girt with firmamental gloom,
- Abides his far, portended doom
And menace of the warring void.
Shall night allay his high unrest?
- Shall Time his destinies aver,
- Or darkened vastitude deter
His feet from their immortal quest?
Shall augury his goal impart,
- Or mind his hidden steps retrace
- To mausolean pits of space
Where throbs the Hydra's crimson heart?
Ephemeral, may Life declare
- What quarry from the Lion runs,
- And sway the inexorable suns
Where gape the abysses of his lair?
O Night, what legions serve thy wars!
- Lo! thy terrific battle-line--
- The rayless bulk, the blazing Sign,
The leagued infinity of stars!
Remote they burn whose dread array
- Glows from the dark a dust of fire;
- Unheard the storm of Rigel's ire,
A grain of light Arcturus' day.
Unheard their antiphon of death
- Who gleam Capella's cosmic foes;
- Unseen the war whose causal throes
Perturb gigantic Algol's breath--
Whom from afar we mete and name
- Ere Light and Life their doom fulfill,
- Spawn of the Power whose aons still
The suns of Taurus armed with flame.
What sound shall pass the gulfs where groan
- Their sullen axles on the night?
- What thunder from the strands of light
Whence Vega glares on worlds unknown?
O Deep whose very silence stuns!
- Where Light is powerless to illume
- Lost in immensities of gloom
That dwarf to motes the flaring suns.
O Night where Time and Sorrow cease!
- Eternal magnitude of dark
- Wherein Aldebaran drifts a spark,
And Sirius is hushed to peace!
O Tides that foam on strands untrod,
- From seas in everlasting prime,
- To light where Life looks forth on Time,
And Pain, unanswered, questions God!
What Power, with inclusive sweep
- And rigor of compelling bars,
- Shall curb the furies of the stars,
And still the troubling of that Deep?
What will shall calm that wrathful sky?
- Crave ye tranquillities of light
- Who stand the sons of war and night?
Behold! the Abyss hath given reply.
Wards of Whose realm shall ye avail
- To loose the tentacles of force
- That drag Arcturus from his course,
And rend the weight of Procyon's mail?
Shall yet your feet essay, unharmed,
- The glare of cosmic leaguers met
- Round stellar strongholds gulfward set,
With night and fire supremely armed?
Shall sun or cycle yet confirm
- Your lordship to the unceded Vast,
- Or human period outlast
The vigil of Capella's term?
Deem ye the Eternal Mind will change
- The throned infinity of law
- That never aon altered saw
In all the Past's eternal range?
Child of unrest, but fain for peace,
- Life dreams, in her expectant dark,
- Of final things, and waits to hark
Conclusive trumpets crying cease.
She lifts an alien voice to call
- To near Denebola: "O sun!
- A little, and thy day is done,
A little, and the Night is all."
A little, and his rays, far-flown,
- Gleam in the dews upon her grave,
- The storied pomps her epochs gave
A dust within her deserts lone.
Yea! so shall Life on worlds afar
- Muse idly of a cosmic tomb,
- Where now past Alioth the gloom
Stirs not with her awaited star.
Her fate, how stranger than we deem!
- Tho' Faith behold with trusting eyes
- A vision on transmuted skies--
The splendors of the human dream;
To live, tho' Pain and Sorrow cease;
- To reach the high Eternal Heart;
- To know Infinity, nor part;
To find the far Ideal, Peace--
The life of each perfected world
- August archangels chanting praise,
- Deep-ranked in everlasting ways,
With wings of grief and exile furled.
O dream not all the worlds fulfill!
- Unblest, unbidden, save of hope.
- Not for finality the scope
And strength of that unaltered Will.
The eternal Night hath writ in stars
- Denial of the ends ye name;
- Ye stand rebuked by suns who claim
The consummation of her wars.
Constrained to what abysmal pole
- Shall severed armies close their flanks
- To stand with deviated ranks,
Subserving to a final goal?
Shall Godhead dream a transient thing?
- Strives He for that which now He lacks?
- Shall Law's dominion melt as wax
As touch of Hope's irradiant wing?
Are these the towers His hands have wrought?
- Dreams He the dream of end and plan
- Dear to the finity of man,
And shall mutation rule His thought?
What powers throng the pregnant gloom!
- Unseen, the ministers of Law
- Reach from eternity to draw
The suns to predetermined doom.
On Law ye serve with kindred might,
- Atom and world that hold her ways;
- The firefly's mote, the comet's blaze,
Are equal in her perfect sight.
Her bonds compel the Vast where boils
- Intensest Spica's sea of fire;
- Her lips decree the hidden gyre
Of bulks that strain in Algol's toils.
Subject to Law's resistless word,
- Thy hands, O Force! resolve the star,
- And toil, at Alphard's battle-car,
His flaming panoply to gird.
Charged, the immeasured gulfs transmit
- Her mandate to the fonts of life,
- Inciting to the governed strife
Whereby the lethal voids are lit,
With augment of imperious tides
- On vague, illimitable coasts,
- And battle-haze of merging hosts
To which the flare of Vega rides.
"But nay!" ye cry, "we trust her hands
- Induce an unconjectured morn,
- To whose divine fulfillment born,
Her strength irrevocable stands."
O lights by which, far-taught, we trace
- The path of Life from death to death!
- O fanes of her recurrent breath,
And strength of Night's annulling mace!--
Profounds whose silences proclaim
- What realms of mystery and awe!
- Colossal Wraths extolling Law
From unsubverted thrones of flame!--
Suns of the Lyre whose thunders rise
- From chords the eternal Hands have smit!
- Stars of the Sword a moment lit
Ere Life re-name her altered skies!--
Without beginning, aim or end;
- Supreme, incessant, unbegot;
- The systems change, but goal is not,
Where the Infinities attend.
Deem ye their armaments confess
- A source of mutable desire?
- Think ye He mailed His thought in fire
And called from night and nothingness
And armed for Time their high array?
- Dream ye Infinity was bent
- Upon a whim, a drama spent
Within an instant of His day?
Think ye He broke His dream indeed,
- And rent His deep with fearful Pow'rs,
- That Man inherit fadeless bow'rs?
Desiring, He would know a need!
Nay! stable His Infinity,
- Beyond mutation or desire.
- The visions pass. The worlds expire,
Unfathomed still their mystery.
So hath He dreamt. So stands His night,
- Wherein the suns abiding range,
- Dust of the dynasties of change,
And altars of eternal light.
- December, 1901.
My sleep was like a summer sky
- That held the music of a lark:
- I waken to the voiceless dark
And life's more silent mystery.
Night with her fleeting hours, how brief
- To watch beyond her vault sublime
- The gyrant systems meting Time,
That holds the timelessness of grief!
How pure the light their legions shed!
- How calm above the crumbling tomb
- Of race and epoch passed to gloom
No ray can pierce nor mortal tread!
What gulfs define the cosmic storm!
- The torrent of Capella's light
- A needle on the nerves of sight
Till Force annul the bonds of form;
Till Alcor vanish from the void
- Wherein the Dragon dares the waste,
- Wherein the spawn of Alioth haste
To ghostly bastions long destroyed.
O nearer dark whence Man descries
- Abyssal lamps that flare and sink!
- Profounds where stellar glories shrink,
Or Betelgeuse relumined flies!
In gloom as dense can Spica grope
- As this that bars the human will?
- Desires as vast her children fill,
Or kindred mystery and hope?
Lo! peaceless, ere the veiling day
- Expand where now Arcturus shines,
- I cry to night's ascendant Signs
The timeless questions of the clay:
Will Life, the bourne eternal crossed,
- Attain the secret of her hours?
- Will Sorrow find atoning Pow'rs,
And Love fare heavenward to her lost?
I lift entreating eyes to see
- Gulf beyond gulf till sight relent,
- Sun beyond sun till Time repent
Its question of Infinity.
Shall voice or vision cross the night
- From glooms where grope the hands of Force,
- On law's inexorable course,
To being's transitory light?
Shall Sirius resolve our fears?
- Shall Vega's Lord command the Lyre
- To scatter from her chords of fire
A music on the mortal years?
Shall Procyon with flaming tongue
- Declare the doom his strength awaits,
- Or Rigel's light reveal the Fates
Whereto his shadowed worlds have sung?
O silence of the changeless dark
- Whence Hope uplifts unwearied eyes!
- O patience of devouring skies
That close on Algol's dying spark!
Enhooved with gloom, the Age stamps down
- The palace-flare of Babylon;
- To night the lords of Ur are gone;
The Tyres of Time put by the crown.
To Death the sons of Life are thrust;
- From night to night the nations pace;
- Empire by empire, race by race,
The generations pass to dust.
Enter, O Life! their place of dread,
- And seek their silence to attain:
- Shall Mystery renounce her reign,
Or darkness render thee thy dead?
Where stirs the energy they knew?
- Joins it the forces undestroyed
- That urge the suns within the void,
And shake the star in evening's dew?
Or sit they girt by laws unknown
- Whereto the senses serve as bars--
- With fire of unrecorded stars
That light a heaven not our own?
The Night inevitable waits
- Till fails the insufficient sun,
- And darkness ends the toil begun
By Chaos and the morning Fates,
And starward drifts the stricken world,
- Lone in unalterable gloom,
- Dead, with a universe for tomb,
Dark, and to vaster darkness whirled.
How dread thy reign, O Silence, there!
- A little, and the deeps are dumb--
- Lo! thine eternal feet are come
Where trod the thunders of Altair.
O ashen bulks that haunt the Vast,
- Beyond the ministry of Light!
- O strong intrenchment of the Night
On charred Antares cold at last!
Eternity! thine awful hands
- Shall blot the Lion from our skies,
- And build thy dark for future eyes
Where now illumed Orion stands.
Forever, infinite of range,
- Unceasing whirls the cosmic storm,
- In changeless gulfs where Force and Form
Renew the mystery of change.
A fleeting moment, to thy sight,
- Lamp of thine altar Alphard burns;
- Aldebaran to dusk returns,
And Betelgeuse is stone and night. . . .
What solitudes of gloom unknown
- Abide, O Sun! thy future ways,
- Ere Light at last a sceptre raise,
Resuming her forsaken throne--
When Law's compulsive angels sweep
- A sun unknown athwart thy path;
- When hands resistless wake the wrath
That smites to flame the boiling Deep!
And sprung from that recurrent storm,
- The youthful world exultant wheels,
- Where slow Eternity anneals
The manacles of Time and Form;
Where dim alchemic powers rebuild,
- To Law's immutable designs,
- The primal, unapparent shrines
With Being's basic mystery filled--
Fanes of the slowly fostered spark
- Whose fire shall light the groping clay
- To Reason's sympathetic day
And refuge from the bestial dark.
Reborn to that selective strife
- And fury of ascendant wars,
- What tidings of the immortal shores?
What covenant from Death, O Life?
When, in what maze of spacial bound,
- Or cryptic glooms that wall the grave,
- Hast heard the secret which we crave
From that inscrutable Profound?
What surety that thy sons attain
- The litten council of thy Lords,
- And thunder of seraphic chords
To music not of Time and Pain?
What whisper from the world new-born
- Recalled thy footsteps to essay
- The far, inevitable way
Lit sunward from thy mists of morn?
Nay! were Oblivion's nightward springs
- So fair to thine enchanted eyes
- That now forgot the message lies
From Mystery's reluctant kings?
Nay! are thy lips forever sealed,
- O thou that stoodst aloof with Death--
- Thou that with unrevealing breath
Hast passed the swords his angels wield?
She standeth mute. She cannot say
- (Ah! dumb to Love's appealing Deep!)
- If Death be suzerain of Sleep,
Or Lethe cross the road to Day.
She cannot say if she in sooth
- Abide Infinity's concern,
- Tho' Time's unanswered altars burn
In question to the final Truth.
And yet from unaccording Fates
- We crave the secret of our tears,
- With trust in the betraying years,
And clamor at relentless gates.
And lost within the glooms that fill
- The Night's primordial realm unknown,
- See Mystery on a vaster throne
And Truth's far face receding still.
Shall yet the fearful answer fare
- To ancient life supremely wise,
- By seas that flash on alien eyes
The riven sunlight of Altair?
Athwart the gulfs of mote and mind
- How vast, to Sense, the shadow falls!
- She gazes from her proven walls
What deeps unfathomable to find!
Lo! wearied with the fruitless quest
- Their shores invisible to mark,
- We turn us to the outer Dark,
And gleaming suns far-manifest.
Night! of the dooms to which they sweep
- What rumor from the battle's verge,
- Where sun and sun their chariots urge