Poem Hunter


So hath he fallen, the Endymion of the air,
   And so lies down in slumber lapped for aye.
   Diana, passing, found his youth too fair,
   His soul too fleet and willing to obey.
   She swung her golden moon before his eyes --
Dreaming, he rose to follow -- and ran -- and was away.

   His foot was winged as the mounting sun.
   Earth he disdained -- the dusty ways of men
   Not yet had learned. His spirit longed to run
   With the bright clouds, his brothers, to answer when
   The airs were fleetest and could give him hand
Into the starry fields beyond our plodding ken.

   All wittingly that glorious way he chose,
   And loved the peril when it was most bright.
   He tried anew the long-forbidden snows
   And like an eagle topped the dropping height
   Of Nagenhorn, and still toward Italy
Past peak and cliff pressed on, in glad, unerring flight.

   Oh, when the bird lies low with golden wing
   Bruised past healing by some bitter chance,
   Still must its tireless spirit mount and sing
   Of meadows green with morning, of the dance
   On windy trees, the darting flight away,
And of that last, most blue, triumphant downward glance.

   So murmuring of the snow: "THE SNOW, AND MORE,
   O GOD, MORE SNOW!" on that last field he lay.
   Despair and wonder spent their passionate store
   In his great heart, through heaven gone astray,
   And early lost. Too far the golden moon
Had swung upon that bright, that long, untraversed way.

   Now to lie ended on the murmuring plain --
   Ah, this for his bold heart was not the loss,
   But that those windy fields he ne'er again
   Might try, nor fleet and shimmering mountains cross,
   Unfollowed, by a path none other knew:
His bitter woe had here its deep and piteous cause.

   Dear toils of youth unfinished! And songs unwritten, left
   By young and passionate hearts! O melodies
   Unheard, whereof we ever stand bereft!
   Clear-singing Schubert, boyish Keats -- with these
   He roams henceforth, one with the starry band,
   Still paying to fairy call and far command
His spirit heed, still winged with golden prophecies.

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