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The Pilgrims of the Rhine

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THE IDEAL WORLD I.THE IDEAL WORLD,—ITS REALM IS EVERYWHERE AROUND US; ITS INHABITANTS ARETHE IMMORTAL PERSONIFICATIONS OF ALL BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS; TO THAT WORLD WEATTAIN BY THE REPOSE OF THE SENSES.AROUND "this visible diurnal sphere"There floats a World that girds us like the space;On wandering clouds and gliding beams careerIts ever-moving murmurous Populace.There, all the lovelier thoughts conceived belowAscending live, and in celestial shapes.To that bright World, O Mortal, wouldst thou go?Bind but thy senses, and thy soul escapes:To care, to sin, to passion close thine eyes;Sleep in the flesh, and see the Dreamland rise!Hark to the gush of golden waterfalls,Or knightly tromps at Archimagian Walls!In the green hush of Dorian Valleys markThe River Maid her amber tresses knitting;When glow-worms twinkle under coverts dark,And silver clouds o'er summer stars are flitting,With jocund elves invade "the Moone's sphere,Or hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear;"*Or, list! what time the roseate urns of dawnScatter fresh dews, and the first skylark weavesJoy into song, the blithe Arcadian FaunPiping to wood-nymphs under Bromian leaves,While slowly gleaming through the purple gladeCome Evian's panther car, and the pale Naxian Maid.* "Midsummer Night's Dream."Such, O Ideal World, thy habitants!All the fair children of creative creeds,All the lost tribes of Fantasy are thine,—From antique Saturn in Dodonian haunts,Or Pan's first music waked from shepherd reeds,To the last sprite when Heaven's pale lamps decline,Heard wailing soft along the solemn Rhine. II.OUR DREAMS BELONG TO THE IDEAL.—THE DIVINER LOVE FOR WHICH YOUTH SIGHSNOT ATTAINABLE IN LIFE, BUT THE PURSUIT OF THAT LOVE BEYOND THE WORLD OFTHE SENSES PURIFIES THE SOUL AND AWAKES THE GENIUS.—PETRARCH.—DANTE.Thine are the Dreams that pass the Ivory Gates,With prophet shadows haunting poet eyes!Thine the belov'd illusions youth createsFrom the dim haze of its own happy skies.In vain we pine; we yearn on earth to winThe being of the heart, our boyhood's dream.The Psyche and the Eros ne'er have been,Save in Olympus, wedded! As a streamGlasses a star, so life the ideal love;Restless the stream below, serene the orb above!Ever the soul the senses shall deceive;Here custom chill, there kinder fate bereave:For mortal lips unmeet eternal vows!And Eden's flowers for Adam's mournful brows!We seek to make the moment's angel guestThe household dweller at a human hearth;We chase the bird of Paradise, whose nestWas never found amid the bowers of earth.** According to a belief in the East, which is associated with oneof the loveliest and most familiar of Oriental superstitions,the bird of Paradise is never seen to rest upon the earth, andits nest is never to be found.Yet loftier joys the vain pursuit may bring,Than sate the senses with the boons of time;The bird of Heaven hath still an upward wing,The steps it lures are still the steps that climb;And in the ascent although the soil be bare,More clear the daylight and more pure the air....