The Reef

The Reef

The Reef

The Reef……MY green aquarium of phantom fish,

Goggling in on me through the misty panes;

My rotting leaves and fields spongy with rains;

My few clear quiet autumn days—I wish


I could leave all, clearness and mistiness;

Sodden or goldenly crystal, all too still.

Yes, and I too rot with the leaves that fill

The hollows in the woods; I am grown less


Than human, listless, aimless as the green

Idiot fishes of my aquarium,

Who loiter down their dim tunnels and come

And look at me and drift away, nought seen


Or understood, but only glazedly

Reflected. Upwards, upwards through the shadows,

Through the lush sponginess of deep-sea meadows

Where hare-lipped monsters batten, let me ply


Winged fins, bursting this matrix dark to find

Jewels and movement, mintage of sunlight

Scattered largely by the profuse wind,

And gulfs of blue brightness, too deep for sight.


Free, newly born, on roads of music and air

Speeding and singing, I shall seek the place

Where all the shining threads of water race,

Drawn in green ropes and foamy meshes. There,


On the red fretted ramparts of a tower

Of coral rooted in the depths, shall break

An endless sequence of joy and speed and power:

Green shall shatter to foam; flake with white flake


Shall create an instant’s shining constellation

Upon the blue; and all the air shall be

Full of a million wings that swift and free

Laugh in the sun, all power and strong elation.


Yes, I shall seek that reef, which is beyond

All isles however magically sleeping

In tideless seas, uncharted and unconned

Save by blind eyes; beyond the laughter and weeping


That brood like a cloud over the lands of men.

Movement, passion of colour and pure wings,

Curving to cut like knives—these are the things

I search for:—passion beyond the ken


Of our foiled violences, and, more swift

Than any blow which man aims against time,

The invulnerable, motion that shall rift

All dimness with the lightning of a rhyme,


Or note, or colour. And the body shall be

Quick as the mind; and will shall find release

From bondage to brute things; and joyously

Soul, will and body, in the strength of triune peace,


Shall live the perfect grace of power unwasted.

And love consummate, marvellously blending

Passion and reverence in a single spring

Of quickening force, till now never yet tasted,


But ever ceaselessly thirsted for, shall crown

The new life with its ageless starry fire.

I go to seek that reef, far down, far down

Below the edge of everyday’s desire,


Beyond the magical islands, where of old

I was content, dreaming, to give the lie

To misery. They were all strong and bold

That thither came; and shall I dare to try?

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