Oh, whither art thou hast'ning in thy wild and wondrous flight,
Fair stranger with the silver plume and panoply of light?
Hast thou been sweeping ever thus along the fields of space?
Among the countless orbs on high hast thou no resting-place?
Thou art a mystery in the sky, as strange and undefined,
And glorious, as a thought of God, within the human mind;
Bright and perplexing there, amid the knowledge of the soul,
As those are, seen where you calm stars their changeless courses roll.
A fairy web of crystal light from night's high dome of blue
Thy glory weaves, so delicate the stars look softly through;
A mist so radiant, as we gaze there lingers no regret
That it doth shade the beacon lamps on heaven's high watch-tower set.
One glory by another veiled, not lessened, as we trace
The light of God's refulgent smile through the Redeemer's grace,--
A veil of light so beautiful we kneel adoring there,
And gazing up behold it stirred by every breath of prayer.
Where art thou now? for centuries, long centuries, have passed
Since upon mortal vision beamed thy peerless beauty last;
And lo! ten thousand years may fling upon the past their gloom,
Ere mid yon shining host again shall wave thy royal plume.
Didst spring up from the diamond dust of which the stars were formed?
Art thou a spirit star within the sun's caresses warmed?
Or a fierce, fiery missile by the great Omniscient hurled,
To crush and blot from yonder sky some sin-beclouded world?
Perchance thou art thyself a world, peopled by spirits lost,--
Souls doomed throughout immensity forever to be tossed;
Fair, fallen angels, who have lost their heritage in heaven,
And farther still from God must now eternally be driven.
Thou 'mindst me of that wondrous plant whose blossoms bless our eyes
Once in a hundred years,--thou art the aloe of the skies;
Save that a myriad radiant years does seem a briefer time
To thee, than mortal centuries, 'neath their clouds of grief and crime.
Thou 'mindst me of the burning hopes that sometimes wildly start
From sorrow's night and flash athwart the darkness of the heart;
Mysterious and fantastic, not a bird-like hope that springs
From youth's gay greenwood with the dew of freshness on its wings.
Phantoms of hope! that lure us on, and mocking bid us cling
To some blest idol that the heart has worshipped in its spring,--
Vainly! as dreaming hearts like mine may worship thee and mourn
(When thou art lost) 'neath starry skies of half their glory shorn.