The Beacon

FAIR shines the beacon from its lonely rock,
Stable alone amid the unstable waves :
In vain the surge leaps with continual shock,
In vain around the wintry tempest raves,
And ocean thunders in her sounding caves.

For here is life within the gate of death,
Calm light and warmth amid the storm without ;
Here sleeping love breathes with untroubled breath,
And faith, clear-eyed, pierces the clouds of doubt
And monstrous depths which compass her about.

So calm, so pure, yet prisoned and confined ;
Fenced by white walls from pleasure as from pain.
Not always glooms the sea or shrieks the wind :
Sometimes light zephyrs curl the azure main,
And the sweet sea-nymphs glide with all their train.

Or Aphrodite rises from the foam,
And lies all rosy on the golden sand,
And o'er the purple plains the Nereids roam ;
Sweet laughter comes, borne from the joyous band,
And faint sweet odours from the far-off land.

And straightway the impatient soul within
Loathes its white house which to a jail doth turn ;
Careless of true or false, of right or sin,
Careless of praying hands or eyes that burn,
Or aught that sense can feel or mind discern.

Knowing but this, that the unknown is blest,
Holding delight of free untrammelled air :
Delight of toil sweeter than any rest,
Fierce storms with cores of calm for those who dare
Black rayless nights than fairest noons more fair.

And drifting forth at eve in some frail boat,
Beholds the old light, like a setting star,
Sink in the sea, and still doth fare and float
Adown the night till day-break shows afar,
And hark the faint low thunders of the bar.

Nor if indeed he reach the Blessed Isle,
Nor if those pitiless crests shall plunge him down,
Knows he ; but whether breathless azure smile,
Or furious night and horrible tempests frown,
Living or dying, Freedom wears a crown.

by Sir Lewis Morris

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