Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916.

243. Elijah Browning

I WAS among multitudes of children 
Dancing at the foot of a mountain. 
A breeze blew out of the east and swept them as leaves, 
Driving some up the slopes.... All was changed. 
Here were flying lights, and mystic moons, and dream-music.         5
A cloud fell upon us. When it lifted all was changed. 
I was now amid multitudes who were wrangling. 
Then a figure in shimmering gold, and one with a trumpet, 
And one with a sceptre stood before me. 
They mocked me and danced a rigadoon and vanished....  10
All was changed again. Out of a bower of poppies 
A woman bared her breasts and lifted her open mouth to mine. 
I kissed her. The taste of her lips was like salt. 
She left blood on my lips. I fell exhausted. 
I arose and ascended higher, but a mist as from an iceberg  15
Clouded my steps. I was cold and in pain. 
Then the sun streamed on me again, 
And I saw the mists below me hiding all below them. 
And I, bent over my staff, knew myself 
Silhouetted against the snow. And above me  20
Was the soundless air, pierced by a cone of ice, 
Over which hung a solitary star! 
A shudder of ecstasy, a shudder of fear 
Ran through me. But I could not return to the slopes— 
Nay, I wished not to return.  25
For the spent waves of the symphony of freedom 
Lapped the ethereal cliffs about me. 
Therefore I climbed to the pinnacle. 
I flung away my staff. 
I touched that star  30
With my outstretched hand. 
I vanished utterly. 
For the mountain delivers to Infinite Truth 
Whosoever touches the star! 



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