copyright, Kellscraft Studio, 1999
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THE RIM OF THE BOWL


I SAT 'mid the flickering lights, when all the
          guests had departed,
     Alone at the head of the table, and dreamed
          of the days that were gone;
Neither asleep nor waking, nor sad nor cheery-
          hearted –
     But passive as a leaf by the mild November
          blown.
I thought – if thinking 'twere, when thought
          were dimmer than shadows –
     And toyed the while with the music I drew
          from the rim of the bowl,
Passive, my fingers round, as if my will com-
          pelled it
     To answer my shapeless dreams, as soul
          might answer soul.

Idle I was, and listless; but melody and fancy
     Came out of that tremendous dulcimer, as
          my hand around it strayed;
The rim was a magic circle, and mine was the
          necromancy
     That summoned its secrets forth, to take
          the forms I bade.
Secrets! ay! buried secrets, forgotten for twenty
          summers,
     But living anew in the odors of the roses
          at the board;
Secrets of Truth and Passion, and the days of
          Life's unreason;
     Perhaps not at all atoned for, in the judg-
          ments of the Lord.

Secrets that still shall slumber, for I will not
          bare my bosom
     To the gaze of the heartless, prying, incon-
          scionable crowd,
That would like to know, I doubt not, how
          much I have sinned and suffered,
     And drag me down to its level – because it
          would humble the proud.
Beautiful spirits they were, that danced on the
          rim at my bidding:
     Spirits of Joy or Sadness, in their brief,
          sweet summer day;
Spirits that aye possess me, and keep me if I
          wander,
     In the line of the straight, and the flower of
          the fruitful way.

Spirits of women and children – spirits of friends
          departed –
     Spirits of dear companions that have gone
          to the levelling tomb,
Hallowed forever and ever with the sanctity
          of sorrow,
     And the aureole of death that crowns them
          in the gloom.
Spirits of Hope and Faith, and one supremely
          lovely,
     That sang to me years agone, when I was a
          little child,
And sported at her footstool or lay upon her
          bosom,
     And gazed at the love that dazzled me,
          from her eyes so soft and mild.

And that song from the rim of the bowl came
          sounding and sounding ever –
     As oft it had done before in the toil and
          moil of life;
A song nor sad nor merry, but low and sweet
          and plaintive;
     A clarion blast in sorrow; an anodyne in
          strife;
A song like a ray of moonlight that gleams
          athwart a tempest.
     Sound ever, O Song! sound sweetly,
          whether I live or die,
My guardian, my adviser, my comforter, my
          comrade,
     A voice from the sinless regions – a message
          from the sky!

                                               – CHARLES MACKAY



 
copyright, Kellscraft Studio, 1999
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