Friday, August 12, 2016

A REALM OF WONDER, a poem

FAR off there is a realm of wonder,—
          Know you its name?
No region the wide heavens under
          Could be the same!
Dark orange groves it hath, and alleys
     With sunlit verdure covered over
High-mounting hills, great river valleys
     Enriched by crops of maize and clover:
A Land apart, from all asunder,—
          Know you its name?

Walls hath it—two. One—of the mind,—
To the outside world forever blind,
Itself within itself hath still confined;
     Wherefore its brooding and exclusive spirit
Craves but for progress in experience sown,
Noiseless as Nature's own;
     And with that reverence it doth inherit,
Hearkens obediently its sages,
Mysteriously wise from distant ages,
     And with unconscious, tireless sacrifice
     Creates a paradise.

A paradise you say,
Stretching away—and endlessly away!—
     A garden—lovelily abloom
With rice and silk and tea,
Cotton and yam and wheat, all fair to see,
     And breathing forth an exquisite perfume
Of mingled mulberry and orange blows,
Azalea and rose:
     A garden, yet a tomb
Where myriads, sleeping, are remembered still
     By myriads more, who glad their precepts keep,
     And honor them in sleep.

What centuries of industries speak here!
What irrigating waters, silver-clear,
Skirting the uplands, rise, tier above tier!
     What thronged canals, through the Delta plain extending
Hundreds of miles!
     What junks, what bankside villages unending,
What cottages with brown and green roof-tiles!
What fanes! what wildwood temples without cease!
What unperturbed tranquillity! what peace!

Far off there is a realm of wonder,—
          Know you its name?
No region the wide heavens under
          Could be the same!—
     So calm, productive, full of beauty;
Unto contentment so inviting!
     A Land, through service and through duty,
The past and future so uniting
     That Death itself them may not sunder!—
          Know you its name?

Back of the centuries its birth-hour lonely
          Men vainly seek:
Of its beginnings legend only
          And myth may speak:
Ere Greece of beauty dreamed, or Rome of power,
In some mysterious, unrecorded hour,
Darkling from hushed obscurity it sprung
When the Nile gods and the Vedas yet were young.
"A Realm of Wonder"* by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

*See La Cité Chinoise of Eugène Simon. [Actual footnote]

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