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Alas, I thought this forest must be true,
And would not change because of my changed eyes;
I thought the growing things were as I knew,
And not a mock; I thought at least the skies
Were honest and would keep that happy blue
They used to wear before I learned to see
.But woe the day!
Lo, I have wandered forth and thought to stay
Here where some gladness still might be for me,
Where some delight
Should still break on my now too faithful sight;
And, lo, not even here may I go free.
Oh, hateful knowledge, pass and let me be:
Why am I made thy slave? why am I wise
Who once beheld all life with glamoured eyes?
Ah, woe the day! this bleak and shrivelled wood,
These rotted leaves, and all the wild flowers dead:
And here the ferns lie bruised and brown that stood
My tall green shelter: and, above my head,
The naked creaking branches show the sky
Athwart their lattice one murk sunless grey
Ah, woe the day!
I see, and beauty has all passed away.
Woe for my desolate wisdom, woe! Ah why
Must the sweet spell be broken ere I die?
Dear glad-tongued lark, come down and talk with me;
Tell me, oh tell me, hast thou caught, maybe,
Some little word,
Some word from heaven to make the meaning plain
Of this great change, or change me back again?
And, chattering sparrow from the eaves, come here
And tell me, thou who seest men so near,
Canst thou have heard
Some talk among them, out of all their lore,
To teach me, who have learned to see as they,
To be like them still more
And smile at hateful things or pass them o'er?
Sky-bird and house-bird, do you know the way?
Come hither, let me tell you all my woe;
Have you not known me in my carelessness?
I was that joyous child, not long ago,
The fairies hid away from life's distress
And eager weariness of burdened men
To live their darling in the elfin glen;
I was that thing of mirth and fantasies,
More antic than young squirrels at their play,
More wilful wanton than coy butterflies
Teasing the flowers with make-believes to kiss,
More happy than the early thrush whose lay
Awakes the woodlands with spring melodies
And sings the year to summer with his bliss:
And now I am so sad:
For, listen, I am wise, my eyes see truth,
And nothing wears the brightness that it had,
Nothing is fair or glad;
All joy and grace were dreams, dead with my fairy youth.
Ah, had you seen our home!
For the great hall one amethyst clear dome
Fretted with silver or, who could say which,
With white pure moonbeams; and the floors made rich
With patens of all rare translucent gems
And musky flower-buds bending down their stems
For weight of diamonds that hung like dews;
And everywhere the radiance of carved gold,
And pearls' soft shimmer, and quick various hues
Of mystic opals glinting manifold;
And everywhere the music and the gleams
Of clear cool water's sparkling iris beams
In emerald and crystal fountains wrought
Like river lilies with their buds and leaves,
Or as late briar shoots caught
In the first glittering rime-webs blithe October weaves.
Ah me, so fair, so bright!
Had you but seen! But, lo, the other night
I was alone and watching how the sky
Made a new star each moment and grew dim,
And singing to the moon, when he came by,
The wise weird man—what need had I of him?—
The wise weird man who can see fairy folk
And break all spells, he saw me and he spoke
'Poor changeling child,
How is thy heart beguiled,
And thy blind eyes made foolish with false sight!
Let the spell end: be wise, and see aright.'
Then with a frozen salve that brought sharp tears
Signed both my eyes, and went. And from that hour
I am made weary with the cruel dower
Of sight for evil. For mine eyes before
Made beauty where they looked, and saw no more.
Ah happy eyes! Ah sweet, blind, cheated years!
Alas! the glories of our fairy halls:
Alas! the blossoms and the gems and gold:
Dreams, dreams, and lies.
Broken and clammy are the earthen walls,
The mildew is their silvering; where of old
The jewels shimmered shimmers moist and cold
The dew of oozing damps; and, for the dyes
And the fair shapes of diamond laden flowers,
Foul toadstool growths that never saw the skies;
And, for the fountains,pools; and, for the bowers,
Blank caves. Nought, nought in its old gracious guise.
And what is left for beauty is a mock:
Spangles and gilt and glass for precious things,
Bedraggled tinsel gauzes to enfrock
Unlovely nakedness of earth and rock,
And painted images and cozenings.
Ah me! ah me! the beauty, th
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