Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, November 29, 2004

On Visiting Staffa (by John Keats)

((note: Staffa is an island next to Iona
in the Hebrides off the southeastern
coast of Scotland))

No Aladdin magian
Ever such a work began;
Not the wizard of the Dee
Ever such a dream could see;
Not St John, in Patmos’ Isle,
In the passion of his toil,
When he saw the churches seven,
Golden-aisled, built up in heaven,
Gazed at such a rugged wonder,
As I stood its roofing under.
Lo! I saw one sleeping there,
On the marble cold and bare;
While the surges wash’d his feet,
And his garments white did beat
Drench’d about the sombre rocks;
On his neck his well-grown locks,
Lifted dry above the main,
Were upon the curl again.
“What is this? and what art thou?”
Whisper’d I, and touch’d his brow;
“What art thou? and what is this?”
Whisper’d I, and strove to kiss
The spirit’s hand, to wake his eyes;
Up he started in a trice:
“I am Lycidas,” said he,
“Fam’d in funeral minstrelsy!
This was architectured thus
By the great Oceanus!—
Here his mighty waters play
Hollow organs all the day;
Here, by turns, his dolphins all,
Finny palmers, great and small,
Come to pay devotion due,—
Each a mouth of pearls must strew!
Many a mortal of these days,
Dares to pass our sacred ways;
Dares to touch, audaciously,
This cathedral of the sea!
I have been the pontiff- priest,
Where the waters never rest,
Where a fledgy sea-bird choir
Soars for ever! Holy fire
I have hid from mortal man;
Proteus is my Sacristan!
But the dulled eye of mortal
Hath pass’d beyond the rocky portal:
So for ever will I leave
Such a taint, and soon unweave
All the magic of the place.”
So saying, with a Spirit’s glance
He dived!


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