MAJESTIC archer ! Scarce more swiftly fly
‡‡Electric rivers, in their earthward flow,
That leap thro’ sulphur spray th’ abyss of sky,
‡‡Than shoots the current hurtling from his bow.
What pearls of mist his temples crown and strew
‡‡His flowing locks, his locks that glisten wet
And white where time shakes down its ancient snow !
‡‡Yet shines more radiant still his coronet
When on that brow the sun his seven gems has set.
‡‡Fast hold his wingèd steeds their rushing flight,
Or poise in air above the awful steep ;
‡‡While glints his mottled livery on the light,
And rose-cut brilliants from his bosom peep,
‡‡As doth a belt of night the heavens sweep
And dash its star-foam o’er the milky- way ;
‡‡And, when the precipice his coursers leap,
Shakes not the beaten earth beneath their play,
‡‡While fires internal feel their hoofs and dance and sway ?
Now dies the distant thunder on the ear,—
‡‡And Proteus-like he doth new image take :
He lays aside his gold and azure here,
‡‡To don the dappled coat of ocean-snake,
With creamy whiteness falling, flake by flake,
‡‡Adown the sea-green lustre of his hide ;
Then moves he swiftly, proudly to the lake,
‡‡While o’er my fancy, snake-like, visions glide,
For on his scaly back, behold, the centuries ride !
‡‡Oh, thou canst tell, eternal, awful tide.
What forces tore or wore this limy grave.
‡‡Did some fierce Samson tear earth’s jaws so wide,
And lay these rocks thy stony path that pave,
‡‡Or did the ceaseless ages beat and lave
Their prison with the fragile surf of time
‡‡Until a course was eaten by the wave—
When lake to lake sent forth a watery chime,
‡‡And thou, O Stream, new-born, beganst thy march sublime ?
Thy lips do swallow up my tiny voice,
‡‡While round me gathers awe as calm and chill
As thine own mist, and yet do I rejoice
‡‡In thee, O boist’rous emblem of the will ;
For thine the gush of life, the buoyant thrill
‡‡Of joy untamed, youth’s laughter high and free.
Then on ! and sing the song that mocks at ill :
‡‡The sigh, the storm, the agony shall be
Unknown until thy waters clasp the mournful sea.
‡‡Ah ! type of time, thy surge the billowy crush
Of centuries—I, gazing o’er the brink,
‡‡Seem borne along the seething flood, the rush
Of years. Nay, doomèd river ; thou must sink
‡‡Into the infinite, and it shall drink
Thee up ; while I unmoved may hear thy tide
‡‡In tumult rolling at my feet, nor shrink
To see thy fateful waves, but view them glide
‡‡With all a mortal’s sadness, an immortal’s pride.
Source: Richard Edwin Day. Lines in the Sand. Syracuse, NY: John T. Roberts for the Syracuse Chapter of Delta Upsilon, 1878