The Wiser Prophet

By George Sterling

All this I dreamt. Shall any deign to hear
The Dreamer? But the night was moonless, I,
Too weary for the vigil, slept at last,
And in my sleep a vision came to me
Whose voices are forgotten. Yet I heard
Words spoken, though I do not know the tongue;
And faces shown, but whose I cannot say,
So far the skies that held them. As from veils
They stared from out the void—black gossamers
That hang beyond the stars. What Spider wove
The net? And has It snared the gods therein?
What fear is this that shakes the stars? Do they,
Then, tremble in their horror as the flies
Trapped in the web? It was no word of theirs
That crossed the gulf to me. The Message ran
Somewhere between Antares and Altair,
To break on Earth like ocean on a beach;
Yet no man heard save me, and I know not
Its meaning; but beyond the dark I felt
A vaster Dark, whose slow, annuling tide
Creeps nearer to the threshold of the race—
Cold and devouring, exigent and dread,
A symbol and a certainty of doom.
A victim bound, silent as I, the world
Seemed waiting, conscious of the thing foretold:
If I foretell, what ears shall welcome it
Or hand be raised except to threaten me?
Life, passing from mirage to final dust,
Would have no cruel tidings of the goal
Awaiting, but would have her hope sustained
By tongues denying her mortality.
She dreams of an Elysium of peace,
Of pleasures made eternal, and her eyes
Would glut them on illusion. Let her dream!
I will be wise, and show the people not
The shadows of the menace I foresee.
Nay, let them dance, and let the sun-duped throng
Make merry with its harlots to the last.

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