Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 157. Rapture: An Ode
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
157. Rapture: An Ode
By Richard Watson Dixon  (1833–1900)

WHAT is this?
The white and crumbling clouds leave bare the blue;
Shines out the central sun with golden hue;
And all the fruit-trees, rolling blossom-boughed,
Are white and billowy as the rolling cloud.        5
The warm beam bedded sleeps upon the trees,
The springing thickets and the gorse-bound leas;
Sleeps where I lie at ease,
Pulling the ruby orchis and the pale
Half-withered cowslip from the hill-side grass,       10
Midway the brow that overhangs the vale,
Where the sleepy shadows pass,
And the sunbeam sleeps till all is grown
Into one burning sapphire stone,
All air, all earth, each violet-deepened zone.       15

It sleeps and broods upon the moss-mapped stone,
The thready mosses and the plumy weeds;
Numbers the veined flowers one after one,
Their colours and their leaves and ripening seeds:
Above, around, its influence proceeds;       20
It tracks in gleams the stream through crowding bush,
And beds of sworded flags and bearded rush,
Where slow it creeps along the lower ground;
The ridges far above are all embrowned,
The golden heavens over all are ploughed       25
In furrows of fine tissue that abound,
And melting fragments of the whitest cloud.

Ah, what is this, that now with sated eyes
And humming ears the soul no more descries?
Drawn back upon the spirit all the sense       30
Becomes intelligence;
And to be doubly now unfolded feels
That which itself reveals;
Double the world of all that may appear
To eye or hand or ear;       35
Double the soul of that which apprehends
By that which sense transcends.

For deep the cave of human consciousness;
The thoughts, like light, upon its depths may press,
Seeking and finding wonders numberless;       40
But never may they altogether pierce
The hollow gloom so sensitive and fierce
Of the deep bosom: far the light may reach,
There is a depth unreached; in clearest speech
There is an echo from an unknown place:       45
And in the dim, unknown, untrodden space
Our life is hidden; were we all self-known,
No longer should we live; a wonder shown
Is wonderful no more; and being flies
For ever from its own self-scrutinies.       50
Here is the very effort of the soul
To keep itself unmingled, safe, and whole
In changes and the flitting feints of sense:
Here essence holds a calm and sure defence;
It is a guarded shrine and sacred grove,       55
A fountain hidden where no foot may rove,
A further depth within a sounded sea;
A mirror ’tis from hour to hour left free
By things reflected: and because ’tis so,
Therefore the outer world and all its show       60
Is as the music of the upper wave
To the deep Ocean in his sunken cave;
A part of its own self, yet but its play,
Which doth the sunbeam and the cloud convey
To central deeps, where in awful shade       65
The stormless heart receives the things conveyed,
Knowing the cloud by darkness, and the light
By splendours dying through the infinite.

And being such the soul doth recognize
The doubleness of nature, that there lies       70
A soul occult in Nature, hidden deep
As lies the soul of man in moveless sleep.
And like a dream
Broken in circumstance and foolish made,
Through which howe’er the future world doth gleam,       75
And floats a warning to the gathered thought,
Like to a dream,
Through sense and all by sense conveyed,
Into our soul the shadow of that soul
Doth float.       80
Then are we lifted up erect and whole
In vast confession to that universe
Perceived by us: our soul itself transfers
Thither by instinct sure; it swiftly hails
The mighty spirit similar; it sails       85
In the divine expansion; it perceives
Tendencies glorious, distant; it enweaves
Itself with excitations more that thought
Unto that soul unveiled and yet unsought.

  Ye winds and clouds of light,
    Ye lead the soul to God;
  The new-born soul that height
  With rapturous foot hath trod,
  And is received of God:
  God doth the soul receive       95
Which mounts toward Him, and alone would dwell
With Him; though finite with the Infinite,
Though finite, rising with a might
Like to infinitude.
Gently receiving such He doth dispel      100
All solitary horror with delight,
Honouring the higher mood.

For though the soul pants with fierce ecstasy
The unattainable to grasp, to be
For ever mingled with infinity;      105
And this in vain, since God Himself withdraws
From human knowledge, e’en as its own laws
Seclude the soul from sense;
Yet not from love He hies;
From love God never flies.      110
Love is the soul’s best sense, which God descries
Which bares the covert of intelligence:
And, honouring in love the higher mood,
With lovely joys He fills the solitude
Of His own presence, whither trusting Him      115
The soul hath mounted: lo, it might have found
Utter destruction on this higher ground,
Tenuity of air and swooning dim
For lack of breath; but now it finds hereby
A lovely vesture of infinity,      120
And ecstasies that nourish ecstasy.
God giveth love to love, and ministers
Substance to substance; life to life He bears.

  Therefore, ye winds and ye
    High moving clouds of light,      125
  Ye rivers running free,
  Thou glory of the sea,
    Thou glory of the height,
  The gleam beside the bush,
  The tremble of the rush,      130
    To me made manifest,
  The beauty of the flower
  In summer’s sunny power,
Portions of entity supreme ye be,
And motions massed upon eternal rest.      135

  Broad breezes, clouds of light,
    Thither ye lead the soul,
  To this most sacred height
    Above the sacred whole:
The azure world is not so fair,      140
The azure world and all the circling air,
As that true spiritual kingdom known
Unto the spirit only and alone;
  Thither the soul ye bear,
  Oh winds and clouds of light.      145

Ye winds and clouds of light,
  That bear the soul to God;
The new-born soul that height
  By ecstasy hath trod.



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