by Adah Isaacs Menken
Visions of Beauty, of Light, and of Love,
Born in the soul of a Dream,
Lost, like the phantom-bird under the dove,
When she flies over a stream-
Come ye through portals where angel wings droop,
Moved by the heaven of sleep?
Or, are ye mockeries, crazing a soul,
Doomed with its waking to weep?
I could believe ye were shadows of earth,
Echoes of hopes that are vain,
But for the music ye bring to my heart,
Waking its sunshine again.
And ye are fleeting. All vainly I strive
Beauties like thine to portray;
Forth from my pencil the bright picture starts,
And-ye have faded away.
Like to a bird that soars up from the spray,
When we would fetter its wing;
Like to the song that spurns Memory's grasp
When the voice yearneth to sing;
Like the cloud-glory that sunset lights up,
When the storm bursts from its height;
Like the sheet-silver that rolls on the sea,
When it is touched by the night-
Bright, evanescent, ye come and are gone,
Visions of mystical birth;
Art that could paint you was never vouchsafed
Unto the children of earth.
Yet in my soul there's a longing to tell
All you have seemed unto me,
That unto others a glimpse of the skies
You in their sorrow might be.
Vain is the wish. Better hope to describe
All that the spirit desires,
When through a cloud of vague fancies and schemes
Flash the Promethean fires.
Let me then think of ye, Visions of Light,
Not as the tissue of dreams,
But as realities destined to be
Bright in Futurity's beams.
Ideals formed by a standard of earth
Sink at Reality's shrine
Into the human and weak like ourselves,
Losing the essence divine;
But the fair pictures that fall from above
On the heart's mirror sublime
Carry a signature written in tints,
Bright with the future of time.
And the heart, catching them, yieldeth a spark
Under each stroke of the rod-
Sparks that fly upward and light the New Life,
Burning an incense to God!
Last updated July 05, 2015