The Two Keys

There was a Boy, long years ago,
   Who hour by hour awake would lie,
And watch the white moon gliding slow
   Along her pathway in the sky.
And every night as thus he lay
   Entranced in lonely fantasy,
Borne swiftly on a bright moon-ray
   There came to him a Golden Key.

And with that Golden Key the Boy
   Oped every night a magic door
That to a melody of Joy
   Turned on its hinges evermore.

Then, trembling with delight and awe,
   When he the charmèd threshold crossed,
A radiant corridor he saw—
   Its end in dazzling distance lost.

Great windows shining in a row
   Lit up the wondrous corridor,
And each its own rich light did throw
   In stream resplendent on the floor.

One window showed the Boy a scene
   Within a forest old and dim,
Where fairies danced upon the green
   And kissed their little hands to him.

Sweet strains of elfin harp and horn
   He heard so clearly sounding there,
And he to Wonderland was borne
   And breathed its soft enchanted air.

Then, passing onward with the years,
   He turned his back on Elf and Fay,
And sadly sweet, as if in tears,
   The fairy music died away.

The second window held him long:
   It looked upon a field of fight
Whereon the countless hordes of Wrong
   Fought fiercely with the friends of Right.

And, lo! upon that fateful field,
   Where cannon thundered, banners streamed,
And rushing squadrons rocked and reeled,
   His sword a star of battle gleamed.

And when the hordes of Wrong lay still,
   And that great fight was fought and won,
He stood, bright-eyed, upon a hill,
   His white plume shining in the sun.

A glorious vision! yet behind
   He left it with its scarlet glow,
And faint and far upon the wind
   He heard the martial trumpets blow.

For to his listening ear was borne
   A music more entrancing far
Than strains of elfin harp or horn,
   More thrilling than the trump of war.

No longer as a dreamy boy
   He trod the radiant corridor:
His young man’s heart presaged a joy
   More dear than all the joys of yore.

To that third window, half in awe,
   He moved, and slowly raised his eyes—
And was it earth grown young he saw?
   Or was it man’s lost Paradise?

For all the flowers that ever bloomed
   Upon the earth, and all the rare
Sweet Loveliness by Time entombed,
   Seemed blushing, blooming, glowing there.

And every mellow-throated bird
   That ever sang the trees among
Seemed singing there, with one sweet word—
   “Love! Love!” on every little tongue.

Then he by turns grew rosy-red,
   And he by turns grew passion-pale.
“Sweet Love!” the lark sang overhead,
   “Sweet Love!” sang Love’s own nightingale.

In mid-heart of the hawthorn-tree
   The thrush sang all its buds to bloom;
“Love! Love! Love! Love! Sweet Love,” sang he
   Amidst the soft green sun-flecked gloom.

She stood upon a lilied lawn,
   With dreamful eyes that gazed afar:
A maiden tender as the Dawn
   And lovely as the Morning Star.
She stooped and kissed him on the brow,
   And in a low, sweet voice said she:
“I am this country’s queen—and thou?”
   “I am thy vassal,” murmured he.

She hid him with her hair gold-red,
   That flowed like sunshine to her knee;
She kissed him on the lips, and said:
   “Dear heart! I’ve waited long for thee.”

And, oh, she was so fair, so fair,
   So gracious was her beauty bright,
Around her the enamoured air
   Pulsed tremulously with delight.

In passionate melody did melt
   Bird-voices, scent of flower and tree,
And he within his bosom felt
   The piercing thorn of ecstasy.

The years passed by in dark and light,
   In storm and shine; the man grew old,
Yet never more by day or night
   There came to him the Key of Gold.
But ever, ere the great sun flowers
   In gold above the sky’s blue rim,
All in the dark and lonely hours
   There comes an Iron Key to him.

And with that key he opes a wide
   And gloomy door—the Door of Fate—
That makes, whene’er it swings aside,
   A music sad and desolate,

A music sad from saddest source:
   He sees beside the doorway set
The chill, gray figure of Remorse,
   The pale, cold image of Regret.

For all the glory and the glow
   Of Life are passed, and dead, and gone:
The Light and Life of Long Ago
   Are memories only—moonlight wan.

There is no man of woman born
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:47 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme Text too long
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,193
Words 756
Stanzas 27
Stanza Lengths 8, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 8, 4, 4, 4, 8, 4, 4, 4, 1

Victor James Daley

Victor James William Patrick Daley was an Australian poet. more…

All Victor James Daley poems | Victor James Daley Books

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