Come in and tread thou quietly
by Leon Gellert
Within the duskiness.
This twilight thou dost see
Is but the moment passing. Make no guess
Upon these ragged tapestries
Horrid with time
And stained with memories.
The undisturbed grime
Of cryptic years
Conceals those happenings,
Unbrushed by recollection and unwashed by tears.
The music moans, It is the past that sings!
These corridors! These corridors and halls!
This change of light and gathered mystery:
These whisperings; this silent dust that palls
The buried gone are mine-a solemn property.
Here with padded feet
Within the night
I move with muffled beat;
Head-bowed in shame at some foul sight;
Forever raking in some dim recess,
Peering at deeds and thoughts;
Grey things and dead;- a dreadfulness:
An ignorance; a bittered passage fraught
With dampness and sin
From some vile soakage, All alone
I pause at tombs where none must enter in,
And see my name deep-carved upon the stone.
Come in! Come in! If thou hast half a will
To stay and learn
This wilderness, bestill
Thine asking tongue and follow me, nor turn
Upon thy track.
My rooms! My rooms!
My darling, hated rooms, so still, so sad!
How in my dreams the tall wall looms
And rises in threat! Mad! Mad!
Bestir thy limbs, and follow noiselessly,
This way! This way!
I hear the murmur of the outside sea,
And the coming of the day.
The yonder arches with their feeble strength
Have been my pride;
And when the length
Of this main hall has died
Within forgetfulness, will yet live long;
And those ambitious stairs in ruined disarray
May still be worthy of a song
At Judgement Day.
These avenues of searching youth
Wind on, and wind again.
They brought no treasure-just a truth,-
A knowing,-and with knowledge, pain.
Come though with me!
Look not on here, and here!
But loiter now on this, my fondest memory,
My sweetest tear.
My ferns! My fountains! And my singing birds!
And this? Aye, this was love.
Oh, what a place! Here rang those ardent words
Of youth to the wild sky above.
No roof impeded
The calling of her name.
No roof was needed
No indiscretion here, no shame.
Often, often in the summer-still
Of night, I creep within the star-domed space,
And stand upon these stone until
She comes,-she always comes,-a smile upon
A smile-and yet-and yet-
I sometimes wish the soothing dust
Would sprinkle here, and I forget,
And all theses golden railings mould in rust.
But still the playing waters rise and purl
A plaintive song, - singing to stars.
And all because a girl
Has come within the bars
Of an existence, painting all therein
With coloured melodies;
And quieting that sordid din
These perfumed flowers here may never fade;
This passioned orchid, and that rose’s folds;
Yon nodding violet within the shade;-
All bear eternal blossoming that memory holds.
Pass on, though pleasant youth, thou canst not
The tune has passed with time, and left an
But now away, and keep apace with me!
Within this sorry vault, in slow decay.,
My earthly store of learning lies all rottingly-
Disused and dusty-dustier every day.
This chest-unloose the lid-contains
The robes of life, the masks of mind,
Veneers and cloaks, asmear with wanton stains
That Vice has left behind.
Uplift that shirt of mail that saved the soul
And guarded well the tender bud that grew,
And kept unsoiled the under-roll
Of white from crime it never knew.
I wore it constantly awhile;
But in a youthful rashness put it by,
And wore this undervest, and with a smile
Of doubtful bravery, stood naked to the sky.
Uphold the garment, once so white, that failed
To ‘fend me from those evil things
That tore these holes with claws long-nailed,
And left it yellow with imaginings.
Gaze on the purple garment of conceit
Adorned with tattered trappings of a cheap
‘Tis meet! ‘Tis meet!
The folly still outlives the fool’s decay!
These rooms I know not! They are full of sleep,
And haunting shapes of dreams
That flicker silently, and creep
Within the darkness from the beams
Of our perception; time long-lost;
Dreams long-dreamed and never known;
Deeds of unthought cost;
Seeds, long sown;
Rooms of cloud and mistiness
Where lurking shadows wait;
Rooms of sorrowed shiftiness
And so the structure stands, time-built of brain-
Where I have wandered, and will wander yet
Until each bone
Of this frail body rots, the ruin falls and I
But still I build each stone on rocking stone.
I have my plans-sometimes they fail. A Greater
Than mine has other plans, his Will be done
Until the last lone brick is lined
Upon the finished whole,
And through the trembling ether comes the calling
Of the soul.
But go! ‘Tis time! Within the tired mind
I feel the dawn.-and feel the morning wind.