Space And Dread And The Dark


William Ernest Henley

Space and dread and the dark--

Over a livid stretch of sky

Cloud-monsters crawling, like a funeral train

Of huge, primeval presences

Stooping beneath the weight

Of some enormous, rudimentary grief;

While in the haunting loneliness

The far sea waits and wanders with a sound

As of the trailing skirts of Destiny,

Passing unseen

To some immitigable end

With her gray henchman, Death.

What larve, what specter is this

Thrilling the wilderness to life

As with the bodily shape of Fear?

What but a desperate sense,

A strong foreboding of those dim

Interminable continents, forlorn

And many-silenced, in a dusk

Inviolable utterly, and dead

As the poor dead it huddles and swarms and styes

In hugger-mugger through eternity?

Life--life--let there be life!

Better a thousand times the roaring hours

When wave and wind,

Like the Arch-Murderer in flight

From the Avenger at his heel,

Storms through the desolate fastnesses

And wild waste places of the world!

Life--give me life until the end,

That at the very top of being,

The battle-spirit shouting in my blood,

Out of the reddest hell of the fight

I may be snatched and flung

Into the everlasting lull,

The immortal, incommunicable dream.


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